Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A day in the life of a SAHM of two & full-time online college student

I've been taking full-time online college courses for a little over a year so that I can finish my BA degree while staying at home with my children. Staying on top of my coursework takes a lot of motivation and planning. While there is no set time to sign on for online classes, there are weekly deadlines and A LOT of reading. Sometimes there are short videos to watch. Motivation is not optional for an online student. As a stay at home mom I also have to fit my course work around housework, and raising my children. How do I do it?

At the beginning of each week I look over the schedule for each class. I look at due dates, assigned reading, homework ect. Taking it all into consideration I then write out a weekly schedule for myself. I split up all the reading and writing assignments. Doing this is a MUST! Planning is one of the keys to success while taking online courses. Having the motivation to keep this up for the entire school year is another important part to success.  I've taken courses on campus and online. In my opinion, online courses are a lot harder and more time consuming.

My day usually looks like this:

9AM -Wake up with the kids. Get their breakfast ready and turn on cartoons for them while they eat. This gives me about 30-45 minutes of time to start on some reading/homework. That doesn't last long before they start wanting to play.

10AM-2PM I play with the kids. We go outside, make crafts, play with play doh and hang out. Then it's lunch time, and more playing.

2PM-4:30PM- Is when I usually try to get the kids down for a nap. Most of the time I take a nap as well, so that I don't get tired later on. Sometimes my husband comes home early.

4:30PM-5:00PM- I start dinner and usually my husband comes home. He plays with the kids so that I can cook uninterrupted. Other times he makes dinner while I sneak off to read for school.

5:30PM-6PM- Dinner time/clean up.

6PM-8:30PM- We spend family time together. Sometimes if I have A LOT to do I separate and go off to do my coursework. 8:30PM we start getting the kids ready for bed so that they are in bed by 9PM.

9PM-1AM- Is my time to get as much work done as possible. It is also my only alone time for the day. If I don't have too much to do then I am able to take breaks from schoolwork to watch my shows. Usually there isn't time for shows and I end up working on homework.

**Everyday varies a little bit,  but it usually works out like stated above. If I get sick or one of my kids does....oh boy. It throws my week off and I have to pick up the slack on different days. Weekends throw off our schedule, especially when we have big plans. Holidays are difficult as well.  My main goal is to dedicate at LEAST 3+ hours a day to my studies. Those 3+ hours could be grouped together or spread out throughout the day.



How do I pay for my education??
I filled out my FAFSA at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. This needs to be done every school year, usually in the spring/summer before fall classes begin.
Then I applied to the school of my choice(www.liberty.edu). You can apply at any school you want. They took the information from the FAFSA and determined how much financial aid I was eligible for, and how much would be on loans.  It is all based on taxes filed from the year before. The financial aid is money that I do NOT have to pay back. The loans will have to be paid starting 6 months after graduation. There are payment plans that can be worked out so that the whole amount isn't due at that time.  I can also make payments while in school to help pay it off faster. If your income or family income is low enough there is no money down.


How do I keep motivated? 
I think about the future and providing for my children.
I think of having a career and a "big girl" job.
I think of how great it will feel to have the accomplishment.
I take breaks often and make sure to get sleep.


It isn't easy but it is completely possible to get an entire degree online while staying at home with your children. I am living proof(well almost, I still have a little time left). You can always take 2 classes to start out if you aren't sure about what you are capable of. There is no law on how fast or slow you complete a degree. I usually take four classes, split so that I only have two at one time. (They are 8 weeks long) It will take me longer to complete my degree that way but I am able to focus and get good grades. This fall I'm even taking 5 classes. It's all about how much you can handle!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Potty training our 3.5 year old son

I'm not going to lie. Potty training our son was one of most challenging endeavors that I have ever taken on in my entire life. It has been a struggle and I've wanted to scream more then a few times. Jackson can be a very stubborn child. It took him awhile to finally be fully ready.

We purchased a potty chair when Jackson was 18 months old. All that came out of that was a few cute pictures of him sitting on the toilet smiling. Potty training was attempted multiple times after that with no success. Then the entire summer that he was 2 years old he would not keep his diaper on. I took that as a sign he was ready for the potty. Boy, was I wrong! We had more messes that summer then ever before. I finally decided to wait a year, then try again. We got a lot of comments like "He's not potty trained yet?" "It's not that hard, just potty train him already." For me, it was not easy. Finding little "presents" all over the house was enough to make me mad. In the end I had to ignore those comments and let my son decide when HE was ready.

At the beginning of this summer I signed Jackson up for fall preschool. One of the stipulations for attending was that he had to be fully potty trained. I literally had 3 months to get him out of diapers and using the toilet full-time. I began talking to him about using the "big boy potty" earlier in the year. I wanted to work him up gradually. This summer, after telling him that he couldn't go to school unless he was out of diapers, we had a break through. Someone had mentioned letting him skip the little potty chair and having him stand up to pee in the big toilet. One day I went for it. I took a little paper star, stood him at the toilet and told him to "shoot the star".  It became a fun game for him. Once I knew that he could do it I took diapers away completely during the day. For a week I had timers set for every 15-20 minutes. Slowly, the time lengthened between potty breaks. I made sure we didn't have to leave the house for the first 3 days, just so he could get used to the idea of using a toilet. On the 4th day we went to the grocery store. I had him go to the bathroom before we left, and at the store. He did amazingly well! There was a lot of praise that first week and a few accidents. When he did not make it to the toilet there was no yelling, just talking. "It's ok buddy, but next time you need to go in the toilet. It's not fun to be wet and yucky."

Within a month he was fully potty trained for pee. I really had to work on my patience because there were times when he had accidents. Sometimes he couldn't get his pants down fast enough once he was at the toilet. Other times he got caught up in playing and didn't realize he had to go. Eventually though he did get the hang of it and started going on his own. Going poop was/is a whole other story. We are currently in the 3rd month of potty training and finally getting somewhere with pooping.

This clip from Daniel Tiger is one of our favorite songs to sing about the potty:
:)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SAHM Mom of Two Toddlers Going Back to School

I started college later then the norm. Why? That's a story in its own. I took my first college course at the age of 21. By the age of 22 I was married and had my first child. My husband and I decided to expand our family further while both of us worked full-time. This put my dream of having a college degree on hold.

Now at 26 years old I have a one year old and a three year old. Last summer my husband and I decided that I would start taking classes again toward my BA in Business. I looked at different schools and decided that online classes would be the best fit for me. Liberty University Online based out of Lynchburg, VA is the school I chose. I really like that Liberty University has an actual campus with over 12,500 resident students. Their online programs have 80,000+ students. Their online program allows me to complete my degree 100% at home. I'm able to spend more time with my family and go to school.

Faith played a big part in my decision as well.

It's been over a year since I started my first class and I'm loving it. I'm able to continue taking classes throughout the summer, this helps complete my degree faster. I just want to say that I am living proof that a degree can be obtained even if you have children. It may be a little more difficult, but it is completely possible!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Easy Snacks for Toddlers

Finding healthy, yummy snacks for your toddlers can be challenging sometimes. If I would let my kids eat whatever they wanted they would be full of Oreos, potato chips and ice-cream. Toddlers tend to snack a lot so it is important to find healthy things for them to fill up on.
My biggest piece of advice would be not to buy junk food often. Instead stock up on healthy snacks or make your own!
Here is a list of snacks that I always make sure to have in the house....



  • Baby carrots (Steam them if you're not comfortable with them raw)
  • Apples
  • Hard-Boiled eggs
  • String cheese & other cheese to munch on
  • Strawberries, Blueberries or Raspberries (they can be expensive so we usually get one a pack of either of these every week)
  • Granola bars
  • Trail-mix (nuts,m&ms and raisons) 
  • Yogurt
  • Annie's brand cheddar bunnies & chocolate bunnies
  • Pasta (Cook it and snack with no sauce. This makes for an easy and quick snack)
  • Buddy Fruits (pictured above: Easy to take with us while we are on the go without a refrigerator)
  • Cereal

(Always keep a good eye on your child while they are eating!)


Monday, February 25, 2013

I Am A Freestyle Mom

I am a freestyle mom.
I don't fit into any other parenting category completely.
I have the right to choose my own parenting style.
I am always learning.
I do not necessarily parent exactly like I was raised.
I am not perfect and do not always know what I'm doing.
Being a parent has been learn as I go.
Google is my friend.
I am not afraid to ask other moms for ideas or advice.
I make mistakes & I learn from them.
There is always room for improvement.
I am a freestyle mom.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why our family uses cloth diapers


When my oldest was a year old I decided to try out cloth diapers for the first time. He has really sensitive skin and we were going through multiple brands of disposables before I heard about the use of cloth. When I first imagined cloth diapers I thought of ugly rags with ducky safety pins. Boy was I wrong!

I went online and researched all the different types and brands that I could find. There is a social networking site called Baby Gaga that has a forum for cloth diapers. The women in there answered all of my questions wonderfully. They seemed to know the answer to every problem. I went back with different questions like “How do I wash the diapers properly?” or “My child is getting a rash. What is going on?!”.  There is so much information on the internet; I love being able to get my questions answered with the stroke of a few keys. (Link for forum below) 

I was really interested in the environmental side of using cloth as well, and just seeing how many diapers we threw out to be put in a landfill disturbed me. However, what got me hooked was how darn cute cloth diapers are! I slowly added to our stash over the course of a couple years. Every once in a while I stumble upon a great deal and I cannot resist. 

After our second child was born we continued using cloth for months. It was at least 4 months before I became tired of the extra laundry and started buying disposables again. Then a few months ago I decided to sell my cloth to make a little extra cash. When I brought up the box of cloth diapers and started going through it I had a change of heart. There was no way I could say goodbye. It sounds silly but I have a slight emotional attachment. Now months later my children are rocking their cloth again. It's really fun because they can pick out their own diapers. When they are soiled we have a garbage can with a lid and waterproof washable bag in the bathroom that we toss them in. In the summer time we have a clothesline outside that we hang the diapers to dry on after washing. 

When we go on trips or away for more then a couple hours they are back in disposibles because the last thing I want to do when we get home is a load of dirty diapers. I’d rather have nice clean cloth waiting for us when we come home.

Cloth diapers are not for every family but for ours they work great.
Our favorite brands are: 
Bum Genius
Kawaii
BubuBebe 


I purchased most of our diapers at www.cottonbabies.com and www.ebay.com.

For more information on cloth diapers:




My babes rocking Bububebe diaper covers. 

My youngest happy to be in a Kawaii pocket diaper. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ways to Have Fun With Your Toddler at Home

Kids grow up so fast. I'm sure you feel like it was just yesterday that your baby was born.  Don't let anymore time pass by without making memories that you and your child can cherish forever. 
Your kids aren't going to remember all of the times you said no to a new toy or the days you worked late or weren't with them. They aren't going to remember that you fed them the same lunch for a week straight or kept them in their pajamas all day because you were sick. What they will remember is the time you spent together, and the fun you had!
We don't always have the extra money to spend on activities so here are some fun ways we spend time with our kids at home.  

  • Have your own dance party! Turn the music on and dance with your toddler. Let loose, sing at the top of your lungs, and make up your own moves. Act silly! Kids love music, pick them up and spin them around.  Have fun with it! If you have any instruments bring them out. Let the kids play the drums, or whatever else you may have. March around your house singing and dancing. Having your very own dance party can be great exercise and a fun way to connect with your toddler.  
  • Reading time. I cannot stress how important reading is. Kids show an interest in books at a very early age. Grab a pile of books and announce that it is reading time. Find a comfy place to plop down and make it exciting. Create your own voices for every character and point out all the different pictures. You can add or omit certain words or sentences for learning purposes. Ask questions about the pictures. Show your child that learning is FUN! 
  • Cuddle time. Cuddling is another activity that I feel strongly about. Studies show that there are lifelong benefits of cuddling from infancy. "They found a clear link between love and attention in the early years and healthy emotional responses in later life." (Luna Lullaby's Blog) Cuddling shows toddlers that they are safe and loved.  I cuddle my toddlers everyday. Usually in the morning when we all are waking up, we lay in bed cuddling and talking about what the day will be like. My kids and I make blanket tents and cuddle underneath. We make growling noises and snuggle deeper into the covers hiding from pretend bears and big foots. 
  • Talking. Talking to a child helps them improve their speech. It also lets them know that they are loved and valued. Talk to your child, ask them questions about everyday objects. "What is that sound? Can you hear it with your ears? Is that the garbage truck coming down the street?" You can talk anywhere, during any activity. It is amazing how much my son has learned from just asking questions and pointing day to day things out. 
  • Clean the house. Yes, I said clean the house! We make a big deal out of vacuuming, laundry and picking up toys around here. The kids get so excited to help out. Sometimes we make it a race to clean up all of the toys before the vacuum gets to them. Laundry may take longer with help from the kids but it teaches them to help. They really enjoy putting clothes in the wash and then in the dryer. We also hand them rags so they can "wash" the fridge, stove, dishwasher ect. while we do other hardcore cleaning. Cleaning the house with the kids isn't an everyday thing, we just don't have the time for that. Every once in a while I break out into the "clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere" song and they know I'm serious!
  • Make your home into a museum! Now with Pintrist you can find a craft for just about every occasion. Sure they may not turn out like the pictures, but your kids aren't going to know the difference! Make crafts with your kids. Let the creative juices flow. We have a craft cabinet in our kitchen. It is full of construction paper, glue, markers, crayons, paint and random supplies. At least once a week I sit the kids down and attempt a craft. My son thinks it is great! Immediately after finishing whatever project my son wants to hang it on the wall. The result is our own little art museum on our dining room wall. :) 
  • Movie night!! At least once a month (usually on a weekend) we have a family movie night. We pick out a family/kid friendly movie and make snacks. Then we lay out blankets and pillows on the floor in front of the television. Trevor's uncle calls it carpet camping. We all love it and I look forward to staying up late cuddling with my family. 
All of the things I talked about are free. I guess the point I am trying to make is that spending quality time with your children is important. It doesn't matter what you're doing, as long as you're doing it together. 



If you would like more information on any of the topics above, the websites below are great resources. Or feel free to use google! :)