Janssen is a sweet mom of two and founder of Everyday Reading, a blog about modern motherhood with a practical spin. The blog is a great resource for easy and healthy recipes, simple DIY projects, and plenty of book recommendations for all ages. I was so glad she wanted to share some of her tips with us!
Q. Tell us a little about your family.
Our family consists of me and my husband Bart, and our two little girls, Ella and Ani. In a few weeks, we’ll be welcoming our third girl into our family, and I’m not sure who is the most excited about it! My husband is an MBA student at Duke University, so we currently live in North Carolina. We spent this past fall living in London while he did a semester at the London Business School and got to squeeze in a lot of traveling around Europe too, which was a dream come true. While my husband is a student, I stay at home with our girls and also am the breadwinner through my blog and freelance writing.
Q. How do you find work/life balance? Any helpful tips to share?
Despite the fact that I work at home, I try to keep my working pretty separate from my parenting life. My girls do two hours of napping/quiet time in the afternoon and I work like crazy during that period. I also started waking up about 45 minutes before they get up a few months ago, and that’s made a huge difference. I’m one of those people who loves to work, so it’s not hard for me to get up (especially since I just sit in bed) and plow through a few things before they get up. In the past, I’ve tried getting up early to exercise, and I’ve always hated it, but getting up a little earlier to work is almost like playtime for me.
Q. How do you carve out time for yourself? What do you do when you find it?
This year, I’m trying to work less in the evenings after my girls go to bed. I could tell that working all the time was really starting to burn me out, and I wanted more time to do the things I enjoy doing. I might answer a few emails, but I’ve basically stopped trying to assume I’ll get anything done in the evenings (I’m not a night person, so it takes me twice or three times as long to get anything done, and then my whole evening was spent working). I’m a big reader – I used to be a librarian before I had kids, so I love having a little time to read in the evenings. I also like time to just work on goofy little projects, whether it’s organizing a closet, or painting my nails or reading blogs guilt-free.
Q. How/when do you make space for you and your husband/partner? What do you do together?
My husband and I both love our own little projects, and I’d say we’re not as great as we could be about carving out time together. We do love to watch shows together, so every few months, we’ll watch a show straight through a few seasons, which we both really enjoy. We also try to take a few walks as a family together every week, so the girls can zoom ahead on their bikes and scooters and we can talk.
Q. What do you like to do with your kids? Any easy snacks, gear or products that are lifesavers/time savers when you are out on the go?
I love to read with my girls, so we visit the library a lot and check out tons and tons of books. I especially love it now that my older daughter can enjoy chapter books too. I also like to go for walks or to the park (we can talk about bugs and colors on the way and then I can read while they play on the park equipment). And a good stroller. We got a Britax B-Ready before we went to Europe and now I’m ruined for cheap strollers forever. Also, if you travel much with kids, I can’t recommend a PeaPod baby tent highly enough. It’s so much easier and lighter than a pack and play, and my toddler sleeps way better in it than a pack and play because everywhere looks the same, no matter what country or timezone we’re in.
Q. As a busy mom, how do you approach cooking and meal planning? Any tips for family friendly easy meals or menu planning?
Every Sunday, I sit down and make a list of (this year, I’ve started posting them on Instagram each week too, if you’re in need of ideas). I go grocery shopping for the week on Monday. I try to do at least one crockpot meal a week, and we usually have pancakes or waffles for dinner once a week too. But knowing I have everything ready to go for the whole week makes it easier and also prevents mid-week runs to the store for a forgotten ingredient.
Q. Have you sorted out a way of incorporating regular exercise into your weekly routine? Please share!
My two favorite forms of exercise are morning stroller walks with a few other mom friends and evening zumba. I love walking with other moms because I get some socializing in, I can bring my kids along, and four miles fly by. And going to zumba in the evenings after my husband is home and the babies are in bed is a great way for me to get out of the house, turn off my phone, and visit a little with my friends before and after class. Plus, I come home and sleep like a rock!
Q. Please share any other ideas or tips that might make life easier for other moms (i.e a babysitting swap, outsourcing help, apps, etc.)
An early bedtime (7 p.m.) for my kids is essential for me. We have a very streamlined bedtime routine (pjs, teeth brushing, scripture reading, and family prayer) and then they go straight into bed. They know we aren’t messing around and so they go right to bed without a lot of fussing or whining, although every few months we have to get serious again and keep bad habits from forming. And while implementing quiet time took some time, it’s had a huge payoff. My daughter happily spends two hours in her room every afternoon while my toddler takes a nap, and that has saved my life and made it possible for me to work while staying at home.
It’s also worked really well for us to find a family with kids of similar ages and swap Friday or Saturday night babysitting. We put our kids to bed before we leave so it’s not any work for the other mom, and she can just read. Having a built in schedule means my husband and I actually get out, and on the weeks where I stay with someone else’s sleeping children, I enjoy the quiet time to read or watch a movie by myself almost as much!
Janssen, thank you so much for sharing. I especially loved your “quiet time” tip and will be giving it a go with my girls. Have any great work/life tips to share? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be a featured mom on the site.