“I Don’t Like That!” When Your Kids Refuse What’s For Dinner

Real talk: sometimes I cringe when my family asks, “what’s for dinner?” because…. Uh…. pizza delivery?

In truth, more often I cringe because I’m steeling myself for the inevitable “I don’t like thaaaaaaat” the second I do tell them what’s for dinner.

This happens even if dinner is something totally innocuous, like breaded chicken (other than vegetarian/vegans, I ask you: who doesn’t like chicken!? A stubborn 4-year-old in a bad mood, that’s who).

Because it totally sucks hearing that as a parent, right? You spend that time in the kitchen, no matter how long, getting dinner ready. You’re chugging away the hours til bedtime, and then dinner drama just throws a huge wrench onto the tracks.

And that’s the moment you realize you identify more closely with crabby Betty Draper than sunshiney Donna Reed.

That’s why next time, instead of driving yourself to drink (or becoming a short order cook), keep some of my favorite Family Dinner Hacks in your back pocket and maintain your sanity. Because by the time you’ve gotten to the dinner hour, you’re already thisclose to Netflix and sweatpants anyway! There’s no need to arrive at your post-bedtime me-time all irritated and cranky. You get me?


Here are some ways I avoid (or deal with) the ‘what’s for dinner?” argument:

Rotating Meal Plan

I’ve talked about this one before, I know, but it bears repeating again- when things get bonkerballs busy around here, a rotating meal plan saves my sanity every.single.time.

Here’s how I do it: I pick 5 meals I know everyone likes, and I buy their ingredients.

I use the other two nights of the week for leftovers and delivery.

Then I make those same 5 meals every week until things calm down again OR I get sick of the meals, then I rotate them up again.

So, say it’s Tuesday and I had planned on Sheet Pan Kielbasa and Peppers but my kids start whining, I can change the game up and serve chicken piccata instead, because I’ve already got all the ingredients on hand.

(what do you do when they whine about your choice and you don’t have something else planned? Wait til you read the last tip!)

“You don’t have to eat it”

We loosely follow Ellyn Satter in this house, which means I decide what to serve, where to serve it, and when we eat. My kids decide how much they eat and what they eat.

They are always allowed seconds of anything on their plate, provided we have enough and dessert, though we don’t usually do dessert (much, anyway).

By telling my kids, especially my somewhat picky, very stubborn daughter, “you don’t have to eat it- but this is all there is for dinner”, we have a way better track record.

The most important thing here is to stick with this method; it only works when it’s what they’re used to 90% of the time.

Here, this might help: a handy list of my 5 favorite, go-to, super-trusty kid-friendly dinner ideas! It’s an easy list to grab that’ll give you inspiration when you need it most.

Eat Together

I admit that I struggle with this one. As an adult pre-kids, with a husband who worked nights, I developed a love of eating my dinner solo in front of Netflix on the couch. Like, LOVE. It’s my favorite way to unwind at the end of the day if I’m being honest.

On top of that, I like being able to multitask while the kids eat dinner. This was especially true when they were babies and we followed baby led weaning; I would park them close to me in the kitchen and let them go to town with their dinner while I cooked my own meal and cleaned; then we’d head into the bedtime routine from there. But now that they’re older and don’t need highchairs or bibs, they sit at the table in regular chairs to eat,

Except they don’t eat at the table. They get up, they bicker, they throw toys, they complain about what’s on their plate, they disappear to the bathroom for 20 minutes (I think they learned that one from their dad).

However, when I sit down with them and we eat together, they are sooo much better about eating what’s in front of them.

And while I admit they are not the most riveting conversationalists, I like the pause of us sitting together. It’s a nice way to reconnect at the end of the day, especially on the nights when daddy is home to join us. 

Give Your Backup Plan Its Own Backup Plan

Sometimes, when the fight has all but left me, I scrap diner plans altogether and fall back on old standbys.

When my kids ask, “what’s for dinner?” and I say, “Fresh Cherry Tomato Pasta with Turkey Meatballs” and they immediately launch into whining, I’ll sometimes change it all up mid game and pull an old standby from the freezer or pantry.

Some faves? Naan pizza. White bean and bacon pasta with fried breadcrumbs. Sheet pan nachos with leftover veggies on top.

These are the surefire winners with my kids (like.. 94% of the time) and I still enjoy eating them, so it’s a win-win for everyone. That Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Meal I’d planned on making can wait until next time when I’ve got the stamina to deal with the kids’ drama.

Because at the end of the day, it’s really all about giving yourself grace. Create a framework that works for your home, and then get loose within that frame. When you’re relaxed, so are your kids. We work hard enough during the day- dinner hour doesn’t have to be a struggle!

Don’t forget to grab my GO-TO Kid-Friendly Dinner Recipes! Leave your name and email below, and I’ll send you my 5 trustiest dinner ideas that my kids will eat 9 times outta 10. Because let’s be honest, they’re still kids.
"I Don't Like That!" When Your Kids Refuse What's For Dinner

"I Don't Like That!" When Your Kids Refuse What's For Dinner

"I Don't Like That!" When Your Kids Refuse What's For Dinner

"I Don't Like That!" When Your Kids Refuse What's For Dinner

How Your Personality Affects Managing Weeknight Routines

Do you ever look at other parents and wonder how the hell they keep it all together? Especially when it comes to managing weeknight routines and general family craziness.

Since we’re all here juggling too many balls with not enough hands, I wanted to let you in on a secret to managing those weeknight routines: these parents don’t have some magic wand they wave to get shit done. None of us do.

But what they do have, and what you can have too, is a formula that works with their personality. Knowing how to add a routine to your day in the right way, so that you’re feeling on top of yourself, can make all the difference.

The right routine will add structure to your weeknights at home, creating a rhythm to your evenings that runs on autopilot.

And the best part about creating these autopiloted rhythms? Doing so creates more time in the moments between that lets you stop, relax, feel present with your family, and appreciate the day you have.

Creating routines and rhythms that work with your personality to help managing weeknight routines is, in effect, a practice of minimalism. It’s discarding all the stress and bother and worry and ugh-ness of a rushed evening, and embracing one that is simpler, and easy to handle.

And your personality type plays a lot into that!

Do you remember taking a personality quiz in high school? I do! I was a big fan of women’s magazine quizzes at the time (and still am, which is why I created this quiz for meal planners), and taking the personality quiz in my psychology class felt just like that. I couldn’t wait to find my “type”.

How do you find your personality type? You can sign up at MeyersBriggs.com to pay and have a comprehensive test taken, or you can take a free version at 16Questions.com. Take it and then come back here for a general outline of how you can approach routine building with your personality type!

Ready to figure out the best way to start managing your weeknight routine? Ok, let’s get started.

Remember: I’m not psychologist. I just think this stuff is cool. And a lot of what is to follow is my own interpretation of the Personality Types. If you’re really into learning more about how your personality type works and how it can affect your relationships with others, I recommend this book.

Guess what!? We’ll be going even deeper into how your personality type affects your stress levels (and what to do about that) in my new membership site, Uncomplicated Kitchen! Click the banner below to learn more and save your seat!

Personality Types, as defined by the mother-daughter duo Myers-Briggs, who first created the test widely used today, are broken into 4 categories:

    1. Extraverted (E) vs. Introverted (I), which is how you express energy into the world. Do you feel drained from human contact, or energized by it?
    2. Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N), the method by which you receive and process information. Do you tend to take information given to you at face value, or do you fall back on your intuition?
    3. Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F), which is how you consider that information vs intuition. Do you tend to react according to strong emotions, or do you prefer to find out facts before action?
  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P), or how you then act upon that information. If you like creating a plan and sticking to it, or if you’re more “take it as it comes”.  

So you could look at creating a routine as something that works with your natural tendencies.

This way, instead of working against the grain and going along with what others tell you to do, figure out a way that works for you, instead!

The most important “letter” to look at when determining your best routine style is the last letter, a J or P. This is the letter that determines how you act upon things, how well you work within the confines of a routine.

Personality Types, as defined by the mother-daughter duo Myers-Briggs, who first created the test widely used today, are broken into 4 categories:

    1. Extraverted (E) vs. Introverted (I), which is how you express energy into the world. Do you feel drained from human contact, or energized by it?
    2. Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N), the method by which you receive and process information. Do you tend to take information given to you at face value, or do you fall back on your intuition?
    3. Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F), which is how you consider that information vs intuition. Do you tend to react according to strong emotions, or do you prefer to find out facts before action?
    4.  Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P), or how you then act upon that information. If you like creating a plan and sticking to it, or if you’re more “take it as it comes”.  

So you could look at creating a routine as something that works with your natural tendencies.

This way, instead of working against the grain and going along with what others tell you to do, figure out a way that works for you, instead!

The most important “letter” to look at when determining your best routine style is the last letter, a J or P. This is the letter that determines how you act upon things, how well you work within the confines of a routine.

Do you have a whole hour while your husband takes the kids on a grocery run? Use that to make as many lunches as possible for the week, and pack them in the fridge.

Got 15 minutes while Paw Patrol is playing? Grab a basket and throw in a week’s worth of clean clothes and leave them where you can grab them quickly in the morning.

By thinking ahead, looking a defined list, and taking charge in small pockets of time, you can effectively cross things off your to-do list while also allowing flexibility and not needing to stick so rigidly to a “routine” every single night.  


Want to explore this idea further, and see what types of different routines mean different things to you?

We’ll be breaking this and other weeknight strategies down in Uncomplicated Kitchen, the membership site for working parents!

Even better, we’ll do it without taking a ton of time to do so, along with a community of other like-minded women busting through the same strategies and their massive to-do lists, creating time in the evenings to enjoy their families and unwind instead of rushing around.

Weeknights as a busy mom don’t have to suck- Uncomplicated Kitchen can show you how!  

The Early Bird list isn’t up for much longer, and at that point, the price will jump significantly! Right now it’s just $55 to save your seat. Click here for more information.

You know you need help managing weeknight routines, but what do you do when you can't stick to one? Figure out your BEST routine type, based on your personality of course! Here's how.

You know you need help managing weeknight routines, but what do you do when you can't stick to one? Figure out your BEST routine type, based on your personality of course! Here's how.

You know you need help managing weeknight routines, but what do you do when you can't stick to one? Figure out your BEST routine type, based on your personality of course! Here's how.

You know you need help managing weeknight routines, but what do you do when you can't stick to one? Figure out your BEST routine type, based on your personality of course! Here's how.

Why I Love This Easy System of Meal Planning for Busy Moms

Psst; lean closer and I’ll tell you a secret: There’s a way of meal planning for busy moms that’s so unbelievably easy you might not even believe it.

Or maybe, because it’s so easy, you have tried it but you haven’t even realized that’s what you were doing. Which is why today, I’m going to tell you all about my favorite, easiest system of meal planning for busy moms that gets the job done without putting in a whole lotta legwork.

Because sometimes we get all caught up in the “plan” of doing things, of following along a specific set of steps. And we miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. 

Because you want to know the real truth of meal planning? It’s that you know how to do it, girl. You got this on lock. Even if you don’t think you do.

What is this magic form of meal planning for busy moms, you ask?

It’s called the Meal Plan Rotation Plan, and yes, the title of it has the word “plan” in it twice. Just go with it.

I even feel a little silly talking about this in a blog post because it’s SO EASY. It’s SO NORMAL. 

Basically, the Meal Plan Rotation Plan can be chopped up into two “types” of meal planning. 

(By the way, have you figured out your meal plan type yet? Because that’s gonna make this a lot easier to start with. Click here to do so, then pop back over and read the rest of this post)

Ok. Here are the two types of meal plans, when using the Meal Plan Rotation Plan:

Type One: Just plan dinner and “wing it” for breakfast and lunch.
Type Two: Plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner, BUT! You’ll have the same thing (or close to it) for breakfast and lunch every day, and have a different dinner recipe to serve each night.

The secret sauce? That once you create this meal plan, whether that’s Type One or Type Two, you stick with it. For WEEKS.

Utilizing the meal plan rotation plan means you “settle in” to a meal plan. You can vary this by making a 2-week plan, or even a three-week plan, and rotate those.

But by keeping it simple, by cooking and eating the same things for a period, you’re putting your decisions on autopilot for a while.

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


Powered by ConvertKit

Putting a rotating meal plan for busy moms on autopilot accomplishes a lot more than saving the time it takes to sit down and meal plan.

  • Number one, you’ll save money at the grocery store because you can comfortably buy in bulk, or semi-bulk, and take advantage of sales, space in your cupboard, and conquer food waste a little easier.
  • Number two, removing the mental strain of decision making, as minor as it may seem, can do wonders for your busy mom brain.

Have you ever heard of ‘the mental load’?

If you’re a mom, you probably know exactly what I mean: it’s the extra load of responsibility for the family that is typically carried by the mother.

It’s remembering doctor’s appointments, switching out winter clothes for summer, organizing the babysitter for date night. It’s the little things that fathers, as important and helpful as they are and can be, often don’t even think about.

And that mental load is draining, right?!

But guess what: creating a solid, simple meal plan for busy moms like implementing a rotation system can ease that mental load.

Instead of meal planning being something you need to take care of every week, you can just cross the meal plan figuring out right off the list. It’s taken care of for a while.

You might be asking: But what if I get sick of what we’re eating? Then I say: change it up! A meal plan is not written in stone. The beauty of using a rotation plan is that YOU DECIDE IT.  And the freedom it gives adds more space for wiggle room.

Below is an example of a simple Meal Plan Rotation Plan I wrote for my family recently.

For most of last month, my husband was plowing through three long weeks of double shifts at work, and I was solo parenting more than usual. 

Times like this, extra busy times, the Meal Plan Rotation Plan really shines. It takes a big weight off my shoulders to not have to think about meal planning, but still feel confident we’re eating healthy and with easy meals.

Breakfast: every day, my kids had whole grain waffles spread with peanut butter, and I had egg salad in lettuce cups. My husband grabbed breakfast at work.

Lunch: I had leftovers, the kids had homemade “lunchables” of cold cuts, cheese, and crackers. Occasionally I changed it up with PBJs and roasted veggies.

Dinner: I kept the ingredients for these dinners on hand and a list of them on the fridge. Then I made what we had time for or were in the mood for that evening.

We had something to this effect every week for about three weeks. I’m getting sick of it all now, so I’ll spend about 10-15 minutes (longer than I usually do when I’m making the 5 Minute Meal Plan, but it takes longer to decide on new stuff!)


So what do you think!? Does this sound like a plan that might work for your family during busy periods? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


Powered by ConvertKit
This easy system of meal planning for busy moms is so simple, you might be surprised at how effective it is! It starts with making a plan- and then sticking to it.This easy system of meal planning for busy moms is so simple, you might be surprised at how effective it is! It starts with making a plan- and then sticking to it.

Here’s Why You Should Join the Uncomplicated Kitchen Membership Site

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or like, life, you’ve probably heard me touting my new membership group Uncomplicated Kitchen.

 

And I know, I know, every day you’re inundated with things to buy and join and buy, everywhere you go. But Uncomplicated Kitchen is different. Today I want to tell you how – and why – if you’re a working parent, you’ll want to join, stat.

First things first: The quick & dirty lowdown. Uncomplicated Kitchen is a small-group membership site launching in mid-September, 2018 (right after kids start school). Right now, it costs $39 $43 $55 to join for the first 90 days.

Throughout that 90 days, you’ll have access to a “roadmap” of sorts that will take you from a hot mess on a weeknight to cool, calm, and somewhat collected. We’ll use expert interviews, recipe cook-a-longs, tutorials, cheat sheets, challenges, and more.

I say “somewhat” cool, calm and collected because come on. We’re parents. And nobody’s perfect.

But Uncomplicated Kitchen is the perfect first step to getting your ‘ish together on a weeknight. Members can partake in weekly challenges, tutorials, recipe cook-a-longs, expert interviews, and have the option to get a members-only subscription box filled with useful things for working parents.

Each of the three months will focus on a particular “topic”, and work will be gathered around that theme.

These topics are Sheet Pan/One Pan Meals, my 5 Minute Meal Plan System, and Freezer Meals.

Here’s more of a breakdown of the benefits of the membership site:

Tutorials and Cook-a-longs

Together, we’ll break down recipes and make them alongside each other – or you can just watch, whichever is easiest- so you can get comfortable with a roster of simple, easy-to-make recipes you can keep in your back pocket for busy nights.

Expert Speakers

I’m still nailing down interviews, but I’ll have experts in chatting about how they approach the topics we’re covering. Got an idea for someone you’d love to hear from, or an author you just read? Hit me up and I’ll try to get them booked!

Weekly/Monthly Challenges

This is a big part of the “How” of the group. Running through a challenge with others keeps you accountable, makes things fun and interesting, and you can see in real-time how others do at the same tasks as you, and gain inspiration or wisdom from their mistakes and wins.

Members-Only Subscription Box

This is separate from your initial payment, but it’s one of the items in the membership that I’m most excited about! The subscription box will focus on the things truly helpful to the group and cover what we’re learning: so, for example, we’ll have items that help make better sheet pan dinners. Items that are useful for getting freezer meals made. Things that help make your meal planning go faster.

I’ll have more of a sneak peek at the box and its items once we’re closer to the launch date.

Community and Collaboration

This is the heartbeat of the membership site group, and the reason I think you’ll love it inside the most. You’ll be a part of a tribe of other parents who are going through the same steps you are. This isn’t like a typical e-course where you’re given access to a bunch of tutorials and then sent on your merry way. This is done within a community aspect, so you can talk to other people, connect, even find who’s close by to you and meet up in real life.

Because it takes a village, you know?

Me (Ruthy 🙋)

I mean, not to toot my own horn, but…. Beep! I’ve been honing my skills at organization and meal planning for almost 20 years now. I’ve run professional kitchens, balanced food budgets and inventory, have a culinary degree, and can create a recipe from nothing.

I know how to work with specific personalities, schedules, abilities, and constraints in order to help people figure out their own best path to success. I’ve been to the brink where we were broke, always running out of food due to poor planning, overwhelmed at the aspect of getting dinner on the table every single night for my family – and I relied on my skills to set up systems and routines to make my nights easier, run smoother, and my mind less cluttered.

I can help you do the same in your own home!

Uncomplicated Kitchen is a special place, and I really hope you’ll join me on the inside! Watch this space for more details and sneak peeks inside the system- I’m currently uploading everything into the new platform and am stoked to show you guys what it looks like when it’s all put together.

If you’re not on the mailing list, hop on! I’ll be sending out updates over the next few months as everything is put together, plus announcing the expert speakers, some pre-membership workshops that are free for anyone to join (so you can get a taste of my teaching style) and more.

Here's Why You Should Join Uncomplicated Kitchen, the Membership Site for Working Parents
Here's Why You Should Join Uncomplicated Kitchen, the Membership Site for Working Parents

Here's Why You Should Join Uncomplicated Kitchen, the Membership Site for Working Parents

How These Real Life Moms Balance Work and Family Life

Working mamas: figuring out the magic formula to balance work and family life isn’t easy (or possible?)

I’ve been struggling with finding a balance for almost 5 years now, and I always feel like I’m on the constant hunt for that magic ‘hack’ that will make it all work. To feel like the balance of work and family life isn’t some impossible, unreachable thing I’ll never achieve.

But here’s the thing: that magic hack doesn’t exist. And while that is insanely unfair, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other tips, ideas, and ninja moves that simply help, even if they don’t fix it all.

Which is why, when I started feeling like everyone else had it together except me, I turned to my tribe for some advice on how to keep it together. And let’s just say their words totally blew me out of the water.

I am so, so lucky to be surrounded by a group of hard loving, hard working, busy mamas- both online and in real life. 

I put out the call on Facebook asking what working moms do to keep their family life together while also trying to make time for themselves, and I was rewarded with some amazing answers!  

Listed below are the tips, tricks, secrets and, hacks that all help balancing work and family when you’re a working mom.

These routines and systems (and secret ninja moves) keep their families’ lives running as smoothly as possible. They also help to fit in a little self-care time and get everyone out the door in the morning. Which is no small feat!

Before I share the answers though, I’m sharing with you something I was inspired to create after reading all these awesome tips! 

As I read through the comments, I kept getting so excited! These tips were so good, so actionable, so helpful!

But reading comments and tips is one thing. Putting those tips into actual use is a whole different kettle of fish.

So I took some of my favorite ideas moms had shared, and made them into a 5 Day Email Challenge, perfect for any working mom who’s looking to implement simple routines into her day to make things run more smoothly- without having everything take so dang long.

Each email includes a simple “challenge” for that day, helping you get things organized from everything to a nighttime routine to a meal plan- and beyond.

The challenges only take about 20 minutes each day to complete. And at the end of the 5 days, you’ll be way more in control of your day and feeling like the rockstar badass you truly are.

I’m calling it the 5 Day Get-On-Top-of-It Working Mom Challenge, and here’s how it will work:

Every day for 5 days, I’ll email you first thing in the morning. Each email will contain a short, actionable thing you can do or arrange in under 20 minutes that will help you get on top of your ish this week as a working mom.

The challenge starts on the morning of the 25th and it’s a GREAT way to not feel so fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants in the summertime, as well.

Plus, you can follow along with the challenge in a private Facebook group, connecting with other working moms going through the same thing. Find out more and sign up for the challenge by clicking here or signing up below: 

Join the #GetOnTopOfIt Email Challenge!

I've got a simple 5 Day Email Challenge created TOTALLY for working mamas.

5 emails of simple, actionable ideas that will take you from overwhelmed to organized.

Want in?

*Clicking "I'm In" means you consent to receiving emails from me.* Powered by ConvertKit

And so, without further ado, here are some of my favorite tips from my fellow working mamas (these were comments left on Facebook and I’ve edited them for clarity and brevity!)  

 

Megan, marketing specialist and merchandisingI’ve started sacrificing an hour of sleep in the morning to get up alone, shower, answer emails and get my day organized before the chaos starts.

Marcela, teacher: I bought a cardboard file organizer and labeled it Monday- Friday. On the weekends, my 6-year-old and I choose his clothes for the week and place them in each slot. Then he gets dressed during the week with no struggle!

Jackie, teacher: I order my groceries from Amazon Fresh and have them delivered, and I got a bi-weekly cleaning person (worth every penny!)

Katie, client services manager: I will often use my steamer bc I can make two foods at once – my son’s pasta and  his veggies!!

Jennifer, public relations senior manager: I organize my purse/bag the night before, and make sure to check the weather and see if I need to pack an umbrella, what shoes etc. I pack lunches after we make dinner so everything is ready for the next day.

Tricia, PharmD: I have my nanny come early, so I can get ready in the mornings. I’ve mastered shower/makeup/hair in 30min or less.

Eva, healthcare administration: My main life hack: lowering my standards.

Karen, senior editor: I’ve finally trained both my kids to pick out their own clothes and dress themselves and it makes a world of difference in the mornings. At least on the days they are being agreeable!

Join the #GetOnTopOfIt Email Challenge!

I've got a simple 5 Day Email Challenge created TOTALLY for working mamas.

5 emails of simple, actionable ideas that will take you from overwhelmed to organized.

Want in?

*Clicking "I'm In" means you consent to receiving emails from me.* Powered by ConvertKit
Lizz, event planner: I listen to work-related/biz lady podcasts on the way to work, parenting/other podcasts on the way home.

Christine, operations manager: Capsule wardrobe, for everyone! The fewer choices I have to make in a day, and the less clutter, the better. 

Sofia, owner of a martial arts school: I am making the Instant Pot my new best friend! It’s really helpful to get it cooking overnight so that I have something ready to take to work. Then all we have to do is heat up in the evening because for our family, we all eat at different times.

Elizabeth, executive assistant: For the mental load, my husband and I found the concept of “silos” to be really helpful. We each have a list of things we’re “in charge” of mentally and then decide on who will physically do the task at any given time. Writing it out feels more complicated than it actually is! It’s definitely the biggest part of “making it all work” that we’ve found.

Becca, teacher:  I pump breast milk at work so after he goes to bed I am portioning milk into bottles, washing all pump parts and packing it all up for the next day. I get my outfit out of the room before he goes down (we room-share for bedtime).

Samantha, salon owner: My favorite hack: you can clean your entire house with a pack of baby wipes.

Jessica, television producer: I’m loving mason jars right now for meal prep. Breakfast: fresh berries and Greek yogurt, toss some granola on top before you eat or before you toss it in your bag to eat at work. I prep 4 at a time and treat myself on Fridays. Lunch: chicken, veggies and a grain. The jars help with portion control and I use a different sauce on each to mix it up. Then, Monday to Friday, I have my boys do a 5 min tidy while I’m making dinner. I put the timer on and they pick up as much of their stuff and put it away as they can. Some days it’s amazing and some days it just removes a layer of toys but it’s always an improvement.

Abigail, biologist: When we only had one kid, his daycare was the opposite direction from work. I would drop him off and then go back home for 30 minutes, and that totally changed my days. And I decided to leave the Christmas lights up all year. They’re festive.

Domonique, partner manager: I now shower at night (which was really weird for me at first) but saves time in the morning. And I only cook 2-3 nights during work week so there’s enough for leftovers the other nights, and order takeout Friday.

Olivia, social media manager: Does ignoring the kids count? Just kidding. I made my kids their own snack bins in the pantry. Therefore, if they need a snack, they don’t need to ask. And believe me, they need a snack all day.

Lindsey, lawyer: Time blocking. It’s like the opposite of multitasking but allows me to be more efficient with my time and give my kids more of my undivided attention. When I work on a document/project, I only do that and don’t look at email, etc. Then after work, we truly focus on playing, then family dinner, then usually a family bike ride. They get that dedicated time and I’m not distracted by work, because I separate the two.

Tifani, health coach: Success is scheduled!! If you need to do it, it goes on the schedule. As a work at home mom I schedule breaks through tasks, short 3-5 minute breaks every half hour so if a kid needs me, they don’t need to interrupt because they know I’ll take a break soon

Emily, copywriter: On longer days I rely on caffeine.

Cyndl, credit operations specialist: Making sure I incorporate my girl into everything I do when I’m home. She loves to help sweep. My self care translates to: I do face masks and she has her play makeup. She has her own fairy garden she tends to while I actually garden. If she asks to join, I never say no, even if it means it’ll slow down the process.

Melissa, VP of partner operations: One night a week I have my nanny stay late and put my daughter to bed. That night I’ll get a mani/pedi, soulcycle, dinner with friends, etc.

And that’s it! 

Don’t forget: The Get It Done Working Mom 5 Day Email Challenge kick off on Monday, June 25th, and I’d love to have you join along!!

Let’s get our ish together… together. Are you with me? Sign up below or click here for more info!

Join the #GetOnTopOfIt Email Challenge!

I've got a simple 5 Day Email Challenge created TOTALLY for working mamas.

5 emails of simple, actionable ideas that will take you from overwhelmed to organized.

Want in?

*Clicking "I'm In" means you consent to receiving emails from me.* Powered by ConvertKit

How I Did a Big Solo Road Trip, With Kids (And Didn’t Go Crazy!)

I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied. I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied. I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied. I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied.

Last week, I did a 14-hour solo road trip with my 2-year-old and my 4-year-old. And I didn’t go insane.

I didn’t start off insane, either, thanks. I was nervous before the trip started, for sure. And there are definitely some things I’ll tweak before we hit the road to go home again. But all in all? It was unbelievably painless for a long road trip with kids, and one I think I’ll make more often.

Here’s how it began: A few times a year, I pack my kids up and we fly from NYC, where we live, to Northern Michigan, where my parents live.

Since I work from home and my eldest isn’t in school yet, I typically stay 3-4 weeks at a time. My husband will stay back in NYC to work, coming up for a long weekend in the middle of our trip. It’s great- we have tons of time to hang out, let the kids run around in the fresh air, and spend time with my family in my hometown on Lake Michigan.

Back when I had just one kid, the flight from NYC to Traverse City wasn’t fun, but it was pretty straightforward.

And after my second was born, the flight got a little more hectic, for sure, but by breastfeeding him on the plane I was usually able to stop any drama before it began.

However, that nursing baby is now 2. Our breastfeeding days are behind us. He’s old enough now that I have to buy him a third plane ticket. And I am over. it.

Between the TSA, the packing (and worrying about the weight limit), the running to catch connecting flights with a slow-moving toddler while babywearing and dragging 3 pieces of carry-ons, stopping the kids from kicking the seat in front of us, the time my son knocked a huge cup of hot coffee all down the lap of the lady next to us and then cried for the next hour because his ears hurt, the time we got delayed in Detroit for 4 hours and it was midnight and there were no restaurants open, the time we had a two blowouts and I didn’t pack enough diapers; yeah, I’ve come to dread the flight part of our trips up north.

It had gotten to the point where I would get an anxiety stomach ache 24 hours before we flew.

The stomach ache wouldn’t go away until we left baggage claim.

Eventually, I didn’t want to pony up upwards of $400 per plane ticket just so we could be miserable for 24 hours, and then pay to rent a car once we arrived to Michigan. (We don’t own a car here in NYC, so we rent a car or use Zipcar when we need one.) 

My mind was made up: I was done with flying.

So when my husband and I decided on another trip up north before my daughter started school this fall, I told him I planned on road tripping instead. I also started praying it wasn’t the dumbest idea I’d had yet.

Know what? The drive, even 14 hours long, was so much easier than flying.

I hereby consider this my declaration: we are never flying again (unless, obviously, we’re on a time crunch. And even then I’ll probably consider driving!)

I’ve learned a few things after making this last road trip, and I’m sure I’ll learn more as time goes on.

If you’re renting, get the car the day before you leave.

We picked up the car the day of, and while I was pretty organized with packing, I wish I had  more time to get used to how the car handles and the little ins and outs like, does it play music via bluetooth or an auxiliary cable? What are the wipers like when it rains? How hard is that brake pedal? I had to figure too much out while I was also managing traffic jams leaving the Bronx and passing snacks to the backseat. Next time, I’ll pick up the car the day before we go and take it for a test spin before hitting the open highway.

Keep a bag of snacks where you can reach it.

I used a filing box from Thirty-One, and it was perfect- I packed it full of more snacks than we knew what to do with. My favorite road trip snack is fruit leather, which takes a while for my kids to eat so it keeps them quiet and occupied.

Keep a toilet bag handy, including a portable potty.

I kept a bag of diapers, wipes, toilet paper, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and a portable potty seat like this one. This saved my life when my son was napping and my daughter needed to pee. She could squat on the side of the road and I didn’t have to wake him up to take us all to a rest stop.

Tablets are amazing

Don’t feel shy about utilizing the wonders of a tablet for keeping your car quiet and distracting the kids. I recommend you load up way more movies than you think you need. There isn’t a ton of space on a Kindle Fire, which is our tablet of choice, so use SD cards to add extra room. Before you go, turn the wifi off and double check to make sure everything will be accessible when there’s no signal. And bring baby headphones so you don’t have to listen to 14 hours of Little Baby Bum like I did.

Get awesome back-of-the-seat toy and drink holders.

These were inexpensive and perfect for our trip. The kids had a place to put their stuff, and I could slip their tablets into the top so they could watch handsfree.

Take the exits that don’t go to truck stops.

We pulled off the highway to tiny Midwest towns and villages to use the bathroom or grab lunch, instead of always hitting the truck stops. It was nice to see places other than Burger King and Waffle House.

Then, take the truck stop exits and embrace the BK playspace.

The best part about a Burger King or McDonalds Playspace is it’s enclosed, so you can relax and let the kids run around and blow off some steam while you gather yourself for a bit.

Load up your own podcasts and playlists.

Living in the city, I get so used to having strong data wherever we go. But when you’re in the middle of nowhere on I-80, that data streaming station turns silent. I only loaded a handful of podcasts and playlists on my phone, and I wish I’d given myself more of a selection.

No data leads me to: Real life maps.

Google Maps is great but get a road map, just in case.

But speaking of data use, if you’re not on the streaming train just yet, hop on.

Using the hands-free voice-to-talk Alexa option on my Amazon Unlimited Music was great for making my phone play DJ while we drove. Then I could spontaneously request “Little Past Little Rock” and sing at the top of my lungs while the kids looked at me like I was crazy. Amazon Music/Spotify/Google Streaming is your BFF while driving if you get enough signal. And can I suggest country music? It’s made for these kinds of trips.

“Hand on the car!”

Again, we’re city folk. My kids aren’t used to cars; they’re used to standing behind the yellow line at a subway stop. I made it a rule that whenever we’re in a parking lot, they must keep their hands on the car at all times while I gathered my purse and diaper bags and made sure the car was locked. It stopped them from running around in front of traffic.

Juice boxes for the kids and a ‘juice box’ for your phone.

My kids don’t get juice very often, but I bought a few boxes as a road trip treat. But mama’s juice box is what I really came to depend on; not the drinkable kind, the battery kind! We have this hardcore chargeable “juice box” for charging phones, laptops, and tablets, and it is amazing. I charged it fully before we left and it gave enough power that I didn’t have to charge it again till we arrived in Michigan- despite having to charge all 3 devices on it at some stage. If you want a more affordable option, this one is great, too.

Make-your-own surprise bags.

My kids love those packaged ‘blind bags’ with small toys in them, so I took that idea one step further for the road. The day before we left, I made each of them 2 or 3 “surprise bags” in gallon ziplocks using toys we already had. Each ziplock held things that went together; a handful of Hatchimal toys for my daughter, a few matchbox cars for my son, playdough, etc. When they piped up from the backseat, I handed back a ziplock bag and they stayed quiet for another hour or so.


That’s it!

Our 14 hour road trip in actuality took about 28 hours to make, including a stop at a hotel and 4,000 bathroom and food breaks. But all in all, it was super painless and I felt in control of our day- unlike when we’re flying. I’ll definitely be making this trip again in the future!

Have you traveled long car trips with kids? What are your best tips for my trip home? I’d love to hear them!