Hybrid Time: Guilt Free Mothering

Do you feel like you are constantly being pulled in different directions?  Do you feel torn when you have to partake in household chores instead of spending time with your children?  Does the mommy guilt begin to pile on?  Do you start questioning your priorities?

We have all been there, we feel so guilty for taking time to do things like laundry and dishes instead of spending quality time with the children.  Granted these are tasks that need to be completed; maybe there is a way to do both? This is what I like to call Hybrid time.

Hybrid Time is time during the day that you complete household chores while still participating in fun games and activities with your children. This way you can remove the mommy guilt and feel great about getting the necessary chores accomplished. Below are a few of the activities that my children and I participate in during Hybrid time.

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Treasure Hunt: So you need a few minutes to switch around the laundry and start dinner?  This is a great choice that is sure to give you some time to complete your chores and your child is guaranteed to have fun.

Appropriate for Age:  preschoolers and up. 

Time: Should give mom 10-15 minutes to complete her task  

What you will need: Paper, Pen, & Treasure The treasure could be their snack (still in package) or their favorite toy, any treasure will do, it is more about the hunt.

How to make: Take the paper and pen and draw out five locations on the map. It is important that the map is age appropriate for your child. If your child can read you can write out hints and clues along the way but if they are younger pictures will need to be provided. The last location should be where you place the treasure. Time to play: Hand over the map and watch as the fun unfolds. 

Added fun: If you have walkie-talkies you can feed them hints and clues along their travels throughout the house. You can be in the basement doing laundry while talking to them or, in the next room, wherever.

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Healthy Option vs. Unhealthy option

Appropriate for Age: 2 and up

Time: this fluctuates, you decide how many rounds your want to play. This is a favorite game for the children to play while I prepare meals. They often sit at the table eagerly awaiting my next question.

How to play: While prepare a meal have your children sit around or within ear shot and you name three foods. You can either name two healthy options and one unhealthy (they would name the unhealthy), or you name two unhealthy and one healthy (they would name the healthy).

For example: Name the unhealthy option- Apple, Peach, or French Fries? The answer is French fries.  Name the healthy option- Carrot cake, oatmeal cookies, or celery?  The answer is celery. You could also add to the fun and use visual aids if you have them available in your kitchen. You can make this age appropriate as well, say you would like to teach your elementary child healthy food options. You could have them name the complex carbohydrate or perhaps the food with protein, etc. Then give your child a chance to ask you the questions, this really helps them understand nutrition. Hopefully one day they will stump you. I think that whenever you have the opportunity to engage in an educational activity with your child why not make it fun!

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Hide-N-Find

Appropriate for Age: 2 and up

Time: usually 10 minutes but could fluctuate

How to play: Take 5 of the same objects, maybe five plastic stacking cups, linking rings, Barbie dolls, legos, five of anything that is similar.  Hide those five objects in your home. Place them in age/height appropriate locations then have your child locate them. This is a fun activity because you do not have to hide, mommy can continue on with the household chores while the kiddo searches the house for the objects.

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Pots-N-Pan Jam

Appropriate for Age: All time Favorite with the babies and toddlers

How to play: Get out a pot, pan, spatula, and wooden spoon and give them to the baby. You tap on the pot and pan with the spoon then the baby will, and so on and so forth. This is an oldie but a goody.

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What Animal am I?

Appropriate for Age: 2 and up

How to Play: You pick an animal in you mind, say a cow.  Your child then guesses what animal you are, basically 20 questions but with animals. Then it is their turn to pick an animal.  If you can get some pictures of animals prior to playing and then pull those out for your children to review during the game it makes it easier for them to pick their animimal and answer your questions.

Now you can kiss that mommy guilt goodbye, get the household tasks accomplished and still have fun with your children. Life is good!

Make Healthy Food Convenient

Why is it that those inevitable words, “Mommy, I’m hungry” always seem to strike at the most inconvenient moments?  In our house it seems like those words are always uttered moments before we have to drop off a child at school, pick up a child from school, go to an after school activity, doctors appointment, playgroup event, and/or whenever mommy gets a moment to do anything for herself, whether that be using the restroom, brushing her teeth, you name it and they come running.  It is like they have this sixth sense and they can tell when mommy is suddenly not doing something for someone else but surprisingly doing something for herself.  It is as if they have mommy detectors that go off in their little heads when mommy is no longer in mommy mode.  Saying, warning, warning, mommy is enjoying a moment of solitude, must intervene.  Like we will lose our title as Mrs. Mommy or something? (In case Mrs. Mommy can’t fulfill her duties then the first runner-up will be crowned). But, I digress….

So there you are, a mom on the go, and there is your little one(s) asking for a snack, what to do? Well, you could prepare a healthy, nutritious snack for your little one which might take a few minutes or you could grab convenience foods thus making the solution rather, well, convenient. More than likely, since you do have a tight schedule, you will choose the more convenient route, and who could blame you?  Those darn companies making the individually packaged serving sizes so darn appealing, just grab it and go. Now that is something the modern-day mom can get on board with, am I right ladies? I know I for one personally enjoy the convenience of the Late July peanut butter crackers and the cheddar cracker snacks. The prep and cooking time are just my speed.  The directions are as follows, open box, remove individually wrapped cracker package and place in diaper bag, done.  True, that was way convenient but at what cost? 

Here is a riddle for you, what is inexpensive to get but expensive to treat? Answer: Heart Disease and Type II Diabetes. 

As moms it is important that we teach our children healthy eating habits.  Thus, in an effort to have healthy growing foods available for your children to have as snacks I propose that you make healthy food convenient. And this is how…..

The day you get home from the grocery store clean and prepare fruits and vegetables. I realize you may be tired and that you have much more to do during the remainder of your day but trust me, you will thank yourself.

Side Note: When purchasing produce remember the dirty dozen, these are the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels or pesticides.  The following are the dirty dozen and you should make a special point to purchase these organic.

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (Imported)
7. Grapes (Imported)
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale and Collard Greens

Roast butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes preparing each as your family likes.  I prefer to have the butternut squash with a little olive oil and sea salt, the spaghetti squash plain so the kiddos can place their own topping on it (parmesan cheese and marinara sauce), and I slice the sweet potatoes into sticks and mix with olive oil, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  

Slice cucumbers into sticks and divvy out serving sizes of hummus for dipping. Slice up broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers too, all taste great with hummus.

Place a serving size of grapes, carrots, apple slices (with a few drops of lemon so it doesn’t turn brown) in containers.  I also like to have salsa (or cowboy caviar, sooo good!!), hummus, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter in smaller containers for dipping.  Children seem to really enjoy dipping their fruits and vegetables.

You could also make a few yogurt and granola parfait, these are another fun and delicious treat.

Voila, you just made healthy food convenient.  Now, depending on how old your little one(s) is, you can even place these items at their level in the refrigerator and allow them to choose their snack.  I have even added a container with filtered water that my 4 and 6 year-old can reach and help themselves to, which is really awesome when they are thirsty and I am not near the kitchen.

So, while I realize those prepackaged foods will more than likely still be in your pantry (and mine, I am still buying the Late July crackers and the TLC crackers because let’s be honest, we can do it all, just not all at once, and sometimes we get by with a little help from our conveniently prepackaged friends, am I right ladies?).