6 Steps To Selling Your Home Stress Free This Year

Last year when my husband told me he wanted to start a real estate business, I cringed. I was really nervous about him being gone more than he already was. See, Jake is also a senior surgical sales rep here in the Twin Cities. That’s his full time gig. At 30 years old, he’s one of the youngest guys in a senior sales role, which comes as no surprise to me. Since the day Jake and I met, one of my favorite things about him is the passion he puts into everything he does. If he’s going to do something, he’s going to go above and beyond and exceed expectations.

Last year after we had a less than stellar real estate experience, Jake’s wheels started to spin. With 10+ years of sales experience and an incredible ability to market, he thought about how he could use his skills to serve people in the real estate business. He wanted to offer a luxury experience to people at any price point and prevent anyone from feeling as stressed out as we did.

Jake actually grew up in real estate. His mom was a real estate agent and as a little boy he would go around with her and help her show houses. Truth be told, I think that’s why he has a soft spot in his heart for it. 🙂

Over the last year, we’ve learned a lot. We originally started last year by branding ourselves as a company called “Twin Cities Luxury Living.” But the feedback we kept getting was that some people didn’t feel their house was luxurious enough to work with us. Well, that’s the LAST thing we ever want people to feel! Jake and I both have “includer” as a top strength and we simply want to help ANYONE we can to actually ENJOY the process of creating a home for your family.

That’s why we wanted to share some tips with you today! I know that when we were trying to sell our last house, the simple thought of getting the house ready was enough to make me want to call the whole thing off.

So, for those of you who are thinking of selling your house this year, rest assured that it doesn’t HAVE to be as stressful as you think! If you start now, you will be MARKET ready at the peak of the real estate season!

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6 Steps To Selling Your Home Stress Free This Year by Jake Kuiper

You’ve decided that this spring you’ll be putting your home on the market for the first time in years! The thought of this completely overwhelms you. Kids, work, summer vacations, SO many things already on the calendar not to mention selling and buying a new home! Let me ease your concerns here with 6 steps you can be doing RIGHT NOW for stress free home selling in April!

  1. Request a preliminary staging consult (and YES – staging does matter. 88% faster for 20% more). A professional stager can tell you what furniture will need to come and go. How they intend to shape the space and where they feel you need to create more livable room.
  2. Make a List! Putting a plan on paper can ease a lot of anxiety. Now you know what needs to get completed by the time you intend to list your property and can gradually cross off items leading up to spring.
  3. Pack a room a month – let’s be honest, the thought of boxing up your entire home is probably one of the hardest things to get past mentally. BREAK IT UP! Challenge yourself to start boxing up a room a month in order of least to most importance. By the time April rolls around you’ll be on to room 4!
  4. Fix the “maybe next week” repair NOW! Depending on the project it may be difficult to get a contractor out to the property in April – give yourself time NOW for someone to repair the leaky downstairs faucet. A good buyer’s agent will find it; they will request to have it repaired prior to closing anyway and will likely justify an additional UNNECCESSARY reduction in price in their offer. This is money straight out of your pocket! Remove a buyer’s distractions now for peace of mind later.
  5. Wall touchups– neutral is the name of the game when it comes to paint. You love purple, your kids love purple but market research says light and bright. With painting and staging the ultimate goal is to create a space that appeals to as many potential buyers as possible! Patch scrapes and gouges nail holes and other “eye distractions.” One less thing to have to think about in April!
  6. Begin purchasing the home selling intangibles! Diffusers or air fresheners – your home needs to smell fresh (this is non-negotiable!) Spare light bulbs, a new furnace filter, packing boxes, cleaning supplies… Again it’s about doing things today that save you time and stress tomorrow!

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Jake kicked off his business in 2016 by helping all the families he worked with to sell their homes in record time. He sold everything from homes under $200,000 to most recently accepting an offer on a $1.375 million house.

He’s rebranded himself this year as Sota Estate Agency! I honestly LOVE IT! It’s a little hipster, but also professional and polished!

Honestly, if you live in the Twin Cities area and are looking to sell, or know someone who is looking to sell, please don’t hesitate to reach out to him. He’ll get you set up with a free staging consult ASAP (he covers professional staging services for all his clients). Real estate agents are not a dime a dozen and you won’t get the same experience from everyone in town. Jake sells homes anywhere in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. He’s now accepting NEW clients for Spring 2017. Because of his full time job he does limit the amount of clients he takes on at once so that he can be sure to give your property the attention it deserves. AND, so that he’s home enough to keep his wife happy. 😉

You can find Sota Estate Agency on Facebook and Instagram: @sotaestateagency! We’d love for you to follow along as Jake continues to give tips to get your home ready for market! Even if you’re not local, I think you’ll enjoy the tips he offers!

You can also reach Jake via email: jake@sotaestateagency.com or via phone: 612-300-8020.

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

I share my fitness business over on Instagram: (@mommysmetimefitness) or on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time Fitness).

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I Thought I Was Too Good For Sunscreen. Then I Was Diagnosed With Melanoma.

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I’ve lived in the midwest all my life. By the time summer comes each year, and the weather finally gets warm enough to go outside without layers upon layers, I’m SO ready to soak in the sun.

I was born and raised on a farm, and was outside constantly. I’ve always tanned easily, and loved the challenge of trying to get as tan as possible. When I was in high school, I worked as a lifeguard. I rarely wore sunscreen even though I was teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding 10 – 12 hours a day.

I’d see other people put sunscreen on, but frankly I thought most of the time it was lame. I didn’t need sunscreen.

I went to college in Minnesota, and come winter I’d go to the tanning bed to warm up and get a little color. I hated how I looked when I got to be pasty white!

After college Jake and I enjoyed a few years of kid-free married life. We took so many vacations when I never applied a DROP of sunscreen.

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When I started having kids, I started to think about sunscreen. I made sure to apply it on them when they were out in the sun, but still didn’t bother to put it on myself. In fact, if I got it on my hands, I might even wash it off.

During each of my pregnancies, I developed more and more moles. I’ve always been a moley person, but pregnancy gave me 20 times MORE! I had a few that I was worried about, so in June I went for a mole check. The dermatologist gave me a full body scan, and none of the mole I was worried about were concerning to him. The only thing he was concerned about was a tiny mole on my foot. I NEVER would have gone in to the dermatologist to get it checked. It was so little and not raised at all.

He removed it to be biopsied, and a few days later I got a call. It was him calling and not one of his nurses, so I knew it was probably serious. Sure enough, he told me the mole came back with a diagnosis of melanoma. Thankfully, it was still in the early stages, so they did a surgery on my foot to take out a large chunk of skin, and after a couple weeks, I was back to normal.

It all happened so fast, that it almost seemed like it didn’t happen at all. But it’s wild to think about what could have happened had they not caught it early. He said once melanoma gets into the bloodstream, there’s pretty much nothing they can do. He has several melanoma patients who he monitors regularly for a few months or years, knowing that there isn’t a cure, and that it will only be a matter of time until they stop coming to see him.

I’m 30 years old. I have so much life ahead of me. I have four beautiful kids. I have a wonderful husband. I have a career that I love. It’s crazy to think just how much I could have missed out on. I’ve always been insecure about my moles, but now I’m grateful because if I hadn’t gotten all the bigger moles, I would have probably waited a while to go in for a check. Within the next months and years, I’ll be getting several more moles removed as a precautionary step. He said we’ll remove ANYTHING that’s questionable.

I thought I was too good for sunscreen. That all changed the day I was diagnosed with melanoma. This summer has looked very different than most. I don’t leave the house without sunscreen. I’m white as white can be, and I’m okay with it!

My sweet sister-in-law, Madison, made this really easy for me. The minute she heard about everything she sent me a bottle of her amazing sunscreen and tinted moisturizer with SPF 20. She’s a Beautycounter consultant, and ever since this scare I’ve become much more open-eared to everything she’s got in her back pocket. All her products are natural and beautiful and I’ve loved every one I’ve tried so far.

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This week, I asked if she’d open up an online party for all of you. I’d like to give away the Beautycounter products I earn from this social back to you. I don’t care about making money or getting free stuff. I really just want YOU to have quality products, and truthfully, my sister-in-law does an amazing job taking care of her clients. She’ll be able to help you find exactly what you need.

If you think you’re too good for sunscreen, you aren’t. At the very least get yourself some of this Dew Skin moisturizer so you can put it on in the morning and not have to worry when you step outside. Did you know you should be wearing sunscreen EVEN when you walk to your mailbox and back? Yep. I learned that one from my dermatologist. While you’re shopping, grab some sunscreen. It isn’t greasy, which means even my husband will wear it. 🙂

Our party will only be open for a few days (through July 23rd) because I want you to get your products ASAP! You can check out all the awesome products here: Mommy’s Me Time Online Beautycounter Social.

Let’s take care of our skin. It’s just as important as every other part of our bodies!

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), Periscope (@AmberMKuiper), and Snapchat: amberkuiper

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

To join my mentorship community and learn how to grow on social media, you can go to amberkuiper.com and follow me at Amber Kuiper Inc. on Facebook and @amberkuiperinc on Instagram!

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The 10 Stages Of Shopping With Kids At Target

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I have four kids under five and I take them to Target on a regular basis. When I say regular basis, I mean at least two or three times a week. Sometimes four. Because let’s face it, taking them along means that I almost never get everything on my list before all hell breaks loose.

During every trip I reach a point when I think to myself, “I’m NEVER bringing them along again.” And then a couple days later, there I am driving into the parking lot with my little angels in tow.

That’s how it always starts out, by the way. My kids acting like little angels because they are SOOOOOOO excited to go to Target.

You see, I’ve come to notice that there are usually 10 distinct stages that happen.

1. We’re EXCITED to shop!

When we drive into the parking lot my kids are screaming, literally SCREAMING for joy. “We’re HEEEERE! We’re HEEERE!” my two-year-old twins yell. This is followed closely by my four year old asking, “Momma, can I get a new toy? Please momma?” Meanwhile my one year old is squealing and kicking with all his might because even at 13 months the excitement for Target is contagious.

I park as close as I can to a cart corral that has a mega cart, grab it, run it back to the car, and start loading kids in. At this point we’re still all generally pretty excited. Except when one of them doesn’t get the seat they want. There’s usually some fighting and repositioning, and then we’re off. The entire way into the store the excitement builds. They see the bullseye, they see the doors, they yell as we make our way through the parking lot and think it’s hilarious that their voices vibrate as we cross the bumpy terrain. We get in the door, and they are conditioned for what’s next.

2. We need to eat. And we need to eat NOW. 

I think my kids view our trip to the store like a four course meal. But they aren’t starting with salad. Nope, the minute we get inside they yell, “COOKIE please!” Honestly, at that point I pay extra attention to the fact that they said please. That’s a win, and I’ll happily oblige so we can make it through a few aisles in peace. We head over to the bakery where they hand out the free cookies. Those ladies know us by name. It’s like visiting old friends.

We get through the produce section with quite a bit of ease, and then we’re off to the rest of the store, which feels incredibly daunting at that point.

3. We’re going to make noise like we own the joint. 

During the middle portion of our trip, just when they finish their cookies, they use the sugar high to let their presence be known to everyone else in the store. They talk to each other, and sing “Let It GO!!!!” whenever they see Frozen anything, which is about every 10 seconds. Did you know they even make canned green beans with Elsa on the label now?! I mean…

At this point though, everyone is still generally happy. I’ll take loud and happy any day!

4. We are going to escape from the cart. 

By the time we hit the laundry detergent aisle, things start to get real. One decides they don’t want to be in the cart anymore. I distract and attempt to keep him contained. “If you want to look at toys, you need to stay in the cart!” I say this in a singsongy voice, trying to keep my cool. “Want some crackers?”

It works!

…For about 30 seconds until not one but two want to get out. After several more stalls and distractions, there is simply NO WAY to keep them all in the cart. One by one, they get out. “I walk! I walk!” I place them on the ground and they act like they got away with something BIG. Because the truth is, they did, and we all know it.

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5. We are going to take everything off the shelves and put it into the cart. 

This happens. All the time. I end up with the most random items in the cart. I’m so busy trying to find the items we actually need, that as long as they aren’t screaming, I sort of let them think they’re winning. They look out of the corner of their eyes to see if I notice them, and with each bag of candy that gets thrown in, they feel victorious.

6. Mom tries to gain back some control. 

At some point, maybe when we have 10 rolls of paper towel in the cart or 5 different kinds of cheese, I realize this is getting out of hand. We’re going downhill FAST. I quickly place everybody back in the cart, bribing them with yogurt pouches from the dairy aisle, and they fall for it. I decide to forget whatever else was on the list except for maybe one or two more necessities, and make a run for it. In an effort to get them to last just a few more minutes, I remind them that if they’re happy, we can stop by the toys.

7. Mom celebrates and lets them run free in the toy section. 

At this point, I let go a big sigh of relief. We made it this far, I think to myself. If we can make it here, we can make it through the rest of the trip. Even though in the back of my mind I know some of the biggest battles are still coming.

Oh well, let’s just enjoy these happy few minutes. They all find toys that are the neatest things EVER. Like EVER. Doc McStuffins was never so cool until they got to see her with light up shoes! And Lightning McQueen can change COLORS now? Yeah, we definitely need that too.

When baby brother starts to get fussy, we know our time is limited. I ask them to say goodbye to their toys. On a good day, they will, and its the sweetest thing. On an attitude filled day? It’s a full on battle. I usually end up leaving one of them behind, pretending we’re going to go home without them. “See ya later, Emmy!” Classic mom move, right?

She finally comes, but still has her toy in hand.

8. We make a pitstop at the One Spot. 

The One Spot is sort of like the conciliation prize. My kids know it, but they are still desperate for taking something home, so they usually go with it. A new coloring book for a dollar? Sure, Mom. You’re the best!

But there’s usually still that one who can’t let go of the toy she found before. I remind her that we’re not getting that today, but she stays strong, and keeps holding it.

A full on party is about to be held in the check-out lane.

9. We limp to the finish line. 

By the time we get to the checkout lane, we’re all toast. I’m usually holding baby brother who is sick of sitting in the cart, while I try to get everything loaded onto the belt. Meanwhile, the older kids have climbed out of the cart and are raiding the candy. Because doesn’t every preschooler deserve a king size Reese’s about now? I sort of win the battle with the one who NEEDED that toy, although she’s in tears. And the candy? Some days I win that battle, and some days I don’t. I finally swipe my card, load the bags in the cart, and we head to the car. This usually requires me holding one or two kids, while pushing the cart, while asking one of them to hold my hand. We literally limp to the finish line.

10. Find the nearest Starbucks drive-thru. 

Regardless of the shape we’re in, we made it through another shopping trip. My caffeine tank is running on empty, and since I didn’t get my Starbucks inside the store, you can bet I’m going to go to the nearest drive-thru, which is basically programmed into auto-pilot. I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay getting paid in Starbucks for the rest of the my mom life.

In all seriousness though, these trips can be exhausting. It’s in those moments that I can question who I am as a mom or a parent. It’s in those moments, when the rubber meets the road, when I’m reminded that I can’t do this whole motherhood thing on my own. But it’s also when I’m reminded just how BLESSED I am to be able to make Target runs with my kids. Years from now, when I see a young mom in Target with her little ones, you can bet that tears will form in my eyes because I’ll miss my own little troublemakers. And you can also bet that I’ll bless her with a Starbucks. 🙂

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@ambermkuiper).

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Remaining Hopeful When Our Children Are Struggling

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I sit here today typing this with a full and grateful heart. This post has been on my mind for a very long time, but for one reason or another, I didn’t feel the timing was quite right. Now that I’m in the place I am today, I’m confident that I was supposed to hold off so that I could share the full story.

When my son was about 18 months, I noticed that he wasn’t talking like other toddlers his age. In fact, he wasn’t talking or using any words at all beyond “momma” and “dadda.” I told myself it wasn’t a big deal. He’s ONLY 18 months, I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him. He’ll learn to talk in his own time.

Time continued to pass, and every time we were at a play date or with other kids his age, I got discouraged. While the other children were saying adorable things to their moms, my son was silent. I felt the need to try to cover it up, or justify why he wasn’t talking as much.

When I would scroll through social media, I saw parents posting cute conversations they had with their kids, and I got frustrated and sad that I wasn’t able to communicate in the same way with my little guy.

Other friends and family would talk about how smart other toddlers were that they knew, rattling off their ABC’s and singing songs, and it was like a bullet shooting straight to my heart. My child is smart too, I thought. He just can’t communicate it yet.

Our days at home became very frustrating. Instead of having the ability to use words, he would scream and yell and try to communicate his wants and needs. Sometimes I would understand him, and sometimes I wouldn’t, which would only set him off more.

Since he was my first, I didn’t have anything else to compare it to. But still, my mom intuition knew something wasn’t quite right. I found myself doing Google searches and finding activities to do with him to promote speech. We read book after book, we did all the activities, and still, nothing.

When we went to his two year old check up, I filled out the milestone questionnaire, and when I got to the questions about how much he was talking, I almost broke down. He was certainly not anywhere close to hitting them. Ugh. I always believed in letting kids learn at their own pace, but I also didn’t want him to be behind and hold him back academically.

We talked it over with his pediatrician, and she recommended a speech therapy program through the school system. I was very apprehensive about it. Did my child really need special help? Was this going to be something we dealt with for years to come? It all felt very overwhelming.

We ended up having the school system come out an evaluate him, and he qualified for services. The evaluation was one of the most painful things I’ve been through as a parent. It seemed so objective. My son deserves more than to be graded on these series of questions alone. They have no idea how intelligent he really is. He has totally done some of these things with me. But not with you, a stranger who he just met.

Week after week a speech therapist visited us at our home, and worked with him. It wasn’t his favorite thing, and it wasn’t mine either. We tried all the exercises, did all the homework she left for us, but still, it didn’t seem to be helping much. He wasn’t making progress like I’d hoped. And I was stressed every week when she came. There was just something about her coming into our environment that didn’t work well for us. I felt judged somehow, and maybe that was just my own problem, but when you have a child who struggles to talk, I think there’s a piece of you that’s constantly defensive. Because everyone seems to have ideas of how to help, and you’re left to feel like somehow all of this is your fault. What am I not doing enough of? Am I the reason he’s struggling?

We eventually decided to discontinue home visits. Not long after that, we were at another doctor’s appointment, and we learned that because of all the ear infections he’d had the winter before, there was fluid in his ears, and for some reason, it never went away. He was hearing everything like he was underwater. It was all starting to make sense. He wasn’t making progress because he wasn’t able to. We scheduled surgery to get tubes placed in his ears, and I kid you not, the day they were in, he started making sounds he never had before. This was a month before his third birthday, and this was the first time I felt hopeful about the future.

It’s now 11 months later, and I sit here amazed at the progress he’s made since then. It wasn’t a quick fix, though. He had learned so many words improperly, that we’ve had to go back and reteach him how to say things. He still struggles with the articulation of longer words, and I’m still the only one who understands EVERYTHING he says. He’s now in weekly speech therapy through a private practice, and he’s making incredible strides each visit. AND, we can actually talk with him! When he tells me something, I find myself in awe of each word that comes out of his mouth. I don’t take the chance to converse with him for granted. Every conversation represents the struggles we’ve overcome together.

Besides the fluid issues, when I look back, I think he legitimately had some speech delay issues that weren’t related to that. Now that I have two year old twins who talk my EAR OFF without putting in any effort at all, I’m realizing just how difficult that age was with my son. But regardless of what the extent of his delay was, we made it through.

I guess all this makes me think about the bigger picture. Each and every one of our children are going to face struggles. Whether it’s speech or something entirely different, we don’t get to determine the path that’s before them.

As a parent, it makes my heart hurt when I realize my sons and daughters are struggling. It’s humbling to remind myself that as much as I want to be in control of their lives and protect their future, so much of it will always be out of my hands.

Today, I want to encourage each one of you who is helping a child through a struggle. Maybe they’re two months, maybe they’re two years, or maybe they’re 22 years. Whatever the case, you know what it feels like to be in the heat of battle, and how you pour your heart and soul into fixing anything you can for them.

May I remind you today, that there’s someone who knows the struggles of your children? He knows the journey they are on, and He has assigned you as their parent for a reason. Be open to whatever that reason might be. Even if you can’t be the fixer, you can be the encourager. You can fight for them and love them unconditionally. BE THERE for them. They need YOU. They need YOUR love.

As a mom with young children, I know this is only the beginning. There are going to be many bumps and bruises along the way. There are always going to be circumstances that leave me throwing my hands in the air wondering how in the world things are ever going to get better.

But I know one thing. By starting my days literally ON MY KNEES, I will have every opportunity to love them like I’ve been loved by my Heavenly Father. I won’t always be able to fix everything, but I will always be able to point them in the direction of the ONE who can.

There is hope. There is ALWAYS hope.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetime) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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You Asked: How I Structure My Days As A Stay-At-Home Mom

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I’m often asked what our days look like around here. Well, that’s a great question. We’ve been adding new members to our family for the past three years, and I feel like it ebbs and flows with each season we’re in. Sometimes we’re in survival mode, and other times it feels like there’s a rhythm to our chaos. It seems like just when I have things sort of figured out, we welcome a new baby and things go fruit basket upset again.

Before I share our schedule, let me share a little bit about the method behind our madness.

One thing I’ve learned along the way is that my kids THRIVE on having some sort of structure. It doesn’t have to be super rigid, but having a loose framework helps us all to know what to expect, and keeps us all happy. When I’m a step ahead of them, and know what we’ll do next, it prevents boredom, which then eliminates a lot of the shenanigans they tend to pull when they’re bored.

Oftentimes, when a day is out of control it’s because I haven’t put the time in to plan ahead, or prepare activities for us to do. Those are the days when Jake walks in the door and I say, “The kids totally dominated me today.” And then I ask him to open a bottle of wine.

Another thing I’ve learned is that sleep is KING. Well-rested kids are happy kids. I’ve always made it a top priority to be home for nap time and bed time. We are the people who are at home at 1:00pm for nap time EVERY DAY, and home by 7pm EVERY NIGHT. If we go out later than that, we get a babysitter. When my kids get a full night’s rest, the next day is bound to be happier.

Obviously there are exceptions when we push their limits a little bit, but when you have so many kids, the ship can sink VERY FAST. And when it does, it isn’t fun. All that to say, we celebrate early bedtimes. Plus, it gives Jake and I the chance to get some good quality time in every night.

Okay, so here’s our current schedule:

7:00am: Kids wake up! I set the older three up with milk, dry Cheerios, and Doc McStuffins on the couch while I feed the baby and make breakfast.

7:30am: Breakfast! We do A LOT of eggs and frozen waffles with pb and jelly around here. It isn’t unusual to go through 50 eggs a week! I try to read them a little kids devotional to start the day. Some days they’re into it, some days they aren’t. Oftentimes I think it does more for me, getting me in a solid mindset to take on the day.

8:15 – 9:00am: Free play, clean up breakfast, get kids dressed and brush teeth.

9:00am: Feed baby and go to the gym! If I could buy one thing for every mom in the world it would be a gym membership with childcare. Seriously, it is my sanity. It is so worth the work it takes to get them all loaded up and in the car. I drop the kids off, listen to a sermon while I run, AND I get to shower ALONE. It’s a mind, body, and soul experience, people. Plus the kids just love it. We always say it is some of the best money we spend every month. If you have the ability to join a gym, DO IT!!!

Now obviously we don’t go to the gym everyday. If we did, I wouldn’t still have 10 pounds of baby weight to lose. Or maybe that has something to do with all the sugar I crave while breastfeeding. Anyway, on the days we don’t go to the gym, we do playdates, run errands, or something else to get out of the house. I’ve learned that in order to not go insane as a stay at home mom, I NEED to get out of the house once a day.

11:00am: Feed baby, play with toys, and read books. I don’t do anything to prepare for this. I just try to be intentional about playing WITH them, instead of letting them play on their own.

Noon: Lunch. We like to sing songs during lunch time. This is the time of day when they all start to get tired and like to get on each other’s nerves, so singing songs or having Pandora on in the background seems to help.

12:30pm: Free play, clean up lunch, throw in laundry, pick up toys, change diapers

1:00pm: Bring all the kids up to mom and dad’s room. I turn on Netflix and let the older three watch a show while I feed Case. Then I put Case down for a nap. Then I put the other three down for their naps.

2:30pm: Baylen wakes up. I try to be intentional about spending a few minutes doing what HE wants to do. Sometimes it’s to cuddle and watch Thomas. Sometimes it’s to play airplanes. Sometimes it’s play dough. He gets to choose.

3:00pm: Girls wake up. Everybody gets a snack.

3:30pm: School! I try to spend some time on Sunday nights to plan learning activities. I get most of my ideas from Pinterest. In the afternoons we work on colors, ABCs, numbers, art projects, ect. Their attention spans aren’t super long, so this only lasts for 30 minutes – 1 hour tops, so I just go with whatever they seem up for.

4:30pm: My kids LOVE to color. So we usually do that after school. Or we’ll go downstairs and play in the bouncy house. We bought a Little Tikes bouncy house this year, and it has been a life saver for the colder months. It takes up half our basement when it’s inflated, but it is totally worth it when we can’t get outside.

5:00pm: Prep dinner while the kids play. Or order take-out if it’s too crazy, which I’ll admit is fairly often. Again, playing music during this time is KEY. Everybody gets super crabby and antsy this time of day. Sometimes I’ll just take out the pots and pans and let them go to town. Or let them splash in water. Or we’ll just dance. Or go to Target. Whatever it takes to keep them happy until dad walks in the door. Because we all know when Dad gets home it’s like hitting the reset button.

6:00pm: Eat dinner. No toys or phones allowed. If Jake and I feel like we need a meal where we can just focus on each other and want to eat in peace, we’ll feed the kids and wait to eat until after they’re in bed. We do at home date nights at least once a week, and I look SO forward to it.

6:30pm: Bath time. (Want to relax your kids before bed time? Add a little epsom salt, baking soda, coconut oil, and lavender oil. My kids LOVE that.)

7:00pm: Bedtime for the younger three.

7:30 or 8:00pm: Bedtime for Baylen.

8:00pm: MOM & DAD TIME!

So that’s our life right now. A little structure goes a LONG way. It isn’t anything fancy, but it works for us and keeps me from going crazy.

To those of you who are in the thick of survival mode wishing you had a little more structure, hang in there. It will come. Give yourself some grace and embrace the chaos. You’ll get where you want to be soon!

XOXO,

Amber

How do you structure YOUR days? What keeps you sane?

 

This is the second post is a series called “You Asked.”  View the first post, You Asked: How I Get My Kids To Nap At The Same Time.

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Real Life Mom Moments: The Past Few Days

Well, I haven’t been posting real life mom moments everyday. I guess that’s real life. There’s never enough time for blogging as I’d like.

So we’ll play a little catch up.

This guy turned THREE on Thursday! With this fall being so busy, we decided to keep celebrations pretty simple. No big birthday party, just making him feel extra special by celebrating as a family. We decided to opt for a giant cookie from Target. Those things are our favorite, and totally dangerous. Especially since ALLL I crave when I breastfeed is sugar, sugar, and more sugar.

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The older three kids have this new tradition of cuddling in our bed mid morning. The girls run to their cribs and get their pacifiers and blankets, then march into our room and say, “Up! Up!” Since they aren’t taking a morning nap anymore, it’s been a nice way for them to decompress for a few minutes. We turn on Sesame Street and make a snuggle party out of it. Oh, and Emersyn is also obsessed with putting headbands in her hair. She puts them in, then runs over to Jake or me and waits for us to say, “PRRRETTY Emmy!”

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Emersyn tries with all her might to get her sister to wear them too.

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We spent a lot of time at the park this weekend. On Saturday we had a picnic there because honestly I just couldn’t handle cleaning up the kitchen ONE. MORE. TIME. Emersyn stole the bag of chips she was splitting with her siblings, found a hiding place, and chomped away. That girl beats to her own drum.

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Case caught some rays while the big kids burned off some energy.

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Those are the highlights! If you don’t already follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you can check those out for a few more pics of our happenings lately!

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

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Real Life Mom Moments: They Keep Going And Going And Going

It’s funny. When Baylen was born I remember thinking how hard the newborn phase was. Obviously it was hard in the sense that we were sleep-deprived and new at the whole parenting gig. The learning curve was steep and our world changed overnight.

But then he started moving and everything REALLY changed. We could no longer just sit on the couch holding him while he slept in our arms or stared up at us. Nope. The chasing began and he became a toddler. Sure, we were sleeping more, but life with a toddler was completely exhausting in its own way!

And now we have THREE at once!

Well, last night I had to laugh. I was sitting on our chair and a half feeding Case. Anytime I sit down to feed him, it only takes about 30 seconds before the other three find us. Last night was no different. There I was feeding away, and they climbed up and started jumping and doing all kinds of acrobatics to keep me entertained. This picture was taken just after I finished up, but it gives you an idea of what I was dealing with. I love those little monkeys so much.

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These guys are always on the move, and as you’d probably guess, they’re never content to be in one place for very long. So throughout the day we’re constantly cycling between upstairs and the main level and the basement. When they get sick of one room, we move to the next and it’s like setting the good mood reset button.

When we get to our bedroom, they get on the bed and snuggle with each other, which lasts for approximately .5 seconds until they’re ready to sing 5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed or want me to launch them into the air while Buzz Lightyear Baylen yells, “To infinity and beyond!” But the bright side to having them all contained on the bed is that I get to sit down and feed Case in the chair across the room!

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Speaking of Case, he’s such a chill little dude. When he doesn’t want to be held, you’ll find him kicking around on a blanket taking in all the action coming from his siblings.

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I have everybody’s afternoon naps in sync now! Everybody goes down at 1:00, but the older kids wake up before Case does. When it’s time to wake him up they all run into his room. Today Baylen climbed into his crib, so of course the girls wanted to join in too.

As I played the role of referee to make sure they didn’t crunch him, I kept thinking about how FUN this is to have them all so close together. They have so much love for each other already, and I keep praying their bond will only get stronger and stronger as they grow.

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So real life the past couple days has been chasing these guys all over the place, and feeling COMPLETELY exhausted but COMPLETELY energized at the same time.

XOXO,

Amber

 

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Real Life Mom Moments: Everything Feels Like Work

This afternoon after we all woke up from nap time (yes, Jake and I included…we rarely miss a weekend nap), we got ready to run some errands. With a new baby, that means feeding him while Daddy gets the other kids ready to go so we can get out of the house as soon as possible. Because as soon as his baby’s full there’s not much time until he’s running on empty again. And I’d much rather feed him when we return home as opposed to the cramped back seat of our car.

After several attempts to get socks and shoes on, we finally pull out of the driveway. Everybody’s happy, and Jake and I enjoy adult conversation on the 10 minute drive. We make it to the store, where we pick up a few necessary items like eggs, milk, and children’s ibuprofen because we seem to go through all of the above at record speed lately. After we check everything off our list we venture over to the toy section, where we let the big kids run wild for a few minutes (see Instagram picture). Then we make it through three simultaneous tantrums when we have to say goodbye to the toys instead of taking them home.

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We load everybody in the car, which is always a process in itself. Then we pick up pizza because by the time we get home there will be three hungry little kids, and we all know when toddlers get hungry there’s approximately 30 seconds before MAJOR meltdowns ensue.

We pull into the garage and devise a game plan. Unload the groceries first, before the kids. Then I’ll stay inside and get the pizza on their plates while Jake brings the kids inside. Then he’ll supervise supper, aka make sure they don’t throw every last piece on the floor, while I feed the baby.

And there I am, sitting in the chair in the living room, and everybody’s happily eating. And I just watch. I watch real life unfold before me. In that moment, I see so much that makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world. This was my view.

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It’s not the most beautiful picture you’ll ever see, but it’s beautiful to me. There are so many things in this picture that represent life as we know it right now.

The grocery bags on the table, that never get put away right away because there are little people who need attention first.

The lego creation behind them that our almost three year old built all by himself today, and totally blew our mind. I thought for sure Daddy helped him, but it was all him.

The red bowl on the counter that holds Baylen’s toys when he doesn’t obey, because the only effective punishment for him is losing one of his beloved cars or airplanes.

The open cupboards, because it seems like we’re always in transition putting clean dishes away from the dishwasher.

The apple tree painting on the window that Baylen painted at school and is so proud of, and the fingerprints below the painting that constantly remind me my house is filled with the most precious little ones.

The pack ‘n play in the corner that’s used as a catch all and a safe place for baby to lay when I need to work in the kitchen and I don’t want the older kids to smother him.

The little stool next to the pack ‘n play so that those siblings can pay him visits and repeatedly yell, “BABY! BABY!”

The high chairs that are never totally clean, always having some remaining evidence of the last meal we had.

And most importantly, those sweet kids and their daddy. I’m so blessed. I’m blessed to have a husband who acts silly and will do just about anything to make them laugh.

And those kids. The constant joy they bring to my life, just by existing.

So yes, even though a simple trip to the grocery store feels like work, as does everything else about this stage, it’s the best kind of work. Life is full, our house is full, and our hearts are full.

 

 

 

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Real Life Mom Moments: House Slippers In Public

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Guess what? This was the first whole week I’ve been on my own with all four kids! And I survived! My mom’s been helping me the other weeks, but this week I wanted to go it by myself. It included two overnights by myself too, when my hubby was out of town. It feels great to have it under my belt.

To celebrate and spend some quality time together tonight after a long week, we thought we’d have an in home date night tonight. I helped Jake get the kids down for bed and then headed out to pick up the food.

I got to the restaurant to realize I still had my house slippers on. Couple them with my husband’s big fleece jacket and I looked like a real winner. Oh well, at least I got out of the house BY MYSELF!

Funny how making a run to the restaurant is like winning the lottery these days!

I hope you had a great Friday! I’ll see you back here tomorrow for day 3 of Real Life Mom Moments!

XOXO,

Amber

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Real Life Mom Moments: What IS IT About Toilet Paper?

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Ok but seriously. WHAT is it about toilet paper that makes toddlers all giddy? Maybe it’s the fact that they can shred it into a million pieces? Or feed it to the dog? Or clog the toilet when they decide it’d be fun to throw a whole roll in?

Whatever it is, my kids LOVE it.

Around here, I pick my battles. And the toilet paper battle? It just wasn’t at the top of my list…until today.

Most mornings after breakfast and before morning nap time we head upstairs to get dressed and play a bit. At some point when I’m helping Baylen, the twins head to the bathroom and open the cupboard where I keep the extra toilet paper. Most of the time it’s pretty innocent and controlled. They maybe take 2 or 3 rolls out, tear pieces up and fill the inside of the tubes with those pieces. It keeps them occupied for 10 – 15 minutes, I spend about 30 seconds cleaning it up, and we move on.

Today started much the same. The girls were doing their thing with the TP. It wasn’t out of hand at all. In fact, I was having so much fun watching them that I decided to post a picture to Instagram, capturing one of those cute real life mom moments for all my Insta friends to see. Ha! A few minutes later I was humbled.

Baby brother woke up from his nap, so I went to get him out of his crib and changed his diaper, which is the next room over from the bathroom. I returned to find that big brother had decided to join the girls in the fun! They were taking out every last roll, unwrapping it, and building towers. Not long after that they also emptied the diapers out of the cupboard and turned it into their secret fort.

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At that point, there was no turning back. I plopped down on the floor and nursed baby brother while I watched them have a ball of a time. They giggled and giggled with each other amidst the mess. And then tears came when someone’s finger got jammed, who then ran to me to be held. So there I am still feeding brother while holding sister. What a sight! I just may end up writing a post about all the ways one can multi-task while nursing a baby!

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And bless their little hearts, after singing the clean up song about 50 times, they’d helped me clean the whole mess up. I just love how they decided to organize it.

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Anyway, real life around here this morning was embracing the mess, and realizing that maybe I get it after all. WHAT is it about toilet paper? Sometimes in life it’s about simply creating joyful moments out of the stuff that’s usually only used for crap.

I’ll see you back tomorrow for Day 3 of Real Life Mom Moments!

XOXO,

Amber

P.S. For any of you on Instagram, I’ll be posting pictures throughout the month on there using the hashtag #reallifemommoments. I’d love for you to use the hashtag too and post your own real life moments! Can’t wait to see them! My username is @amberkuiper if you’d like to follow along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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