How to Save Money Feeding Your Family

How to Save Money Feeding Your Family from Vicki-Arnold.com

And no, this is not another gardening post. I will take the moment to say that growing your own food is the best money saving tip I have, but I’ve already covered that. So today we are talking strategies to feeding your family for $25 per person for a full week.

That equates to $3.57 per person, per day. To break it down even further, $1 per meal and $.57 for two snacks per person.

I’m just gonna tell you right now that this post is going to be long because I’m going to share a some general money saving strategies, a detailed menu plan with cost breakdown, a free meal planning packet, AND there is going to be a collection of resources known as a linky at the bottom. This linky will have other posts linked up because this post is part of the $100 Grocery Budget Challenge that was created in a blogging group I belong to called Inspired Bloggers Network.

$100 Grocery Budget Challenge Details

The challenge is to show that it is possible to feed a family on $25 per person per week. So $100 for a family of 4, $200 for a family of 8, etc. In our family, we have 6 to feed: 2 adults, 3 kids, and 1 toddler. My almost 10 year old son eats like an adult and we regularly have an extra preschooler.

Our typical grocery budget is actually $125/week, which is less than this challenge already for us ($150), BUT. Big but here. I usually go over that budget because we also have a Miscellaneous fund that I pull drive thru stops and meals out from. As well as any other dietary “splurge” purchases (think sweet treats). The challenge for me this pay period is to stick with the $150.

For reference sake, I’m supposed to tell you that we are in Indiana. And now, let’s get started.

How I Save Money While Grocery Shopping

Coupons are not a regular part of my grocery shopping, I just don’t have the time for them. I do use them when I come across them, I just don’t spend a lot of time hunting them down and clipping them.

And we don’t stockpile items for the most part. I do stock up when I visit certain stores, but we do not have large reserves of toothpaste, shampoo, and tooth brushes in our house.

  • Eat before I shop. I almost didn’t include this because it’s so basic, but I don’t do it approximately half the time so I apparently need the reminder. Grocery shopping while hungry = shopping with your stomach. And you want to shop with your brain. Your brain wants to save money, your stomach wants to eat.
  • Shop prepared. I am one of those people who dreads putting a meal plan together because I tend to dislike being told what to do…even if it’s my own plan telling me what to do. I would much rather prefer eating whatever I feel like it, when I feel like it. The problem with this is that is makes grocery shopping ridiculously expensive because you have to keep more things on hand to cook impulsively. However, taking the time to make a meal plan and a shopping list saves me time (and money) in the long run. I’ll share my meal planning strategy in the next section.
  • Bulk stores. We have a little specialty store in town. Folks around here call it a bulk store, but it’s not a REAL bulk store because the food comes pre-packaged (by the store workers), you don’t choose the amount you buy, but I digress. I buy things like oats (steel cut and old fashioned), specialty flours, and some spices here.
  • Independent discount stores. We have a little discount store run by the local Amish community that is about 45 minutes from my house. I usually make a trip once a month there. I buy things like granola bars, cereals, organic baby food pouches, and any other regular grocery items they happen to have. The items at this store are discounted because of dented boxes, torn labels, discontinuation, and past sale dates. We have occasionally picked up something that was stale (taco shells that cost me $.49) and something that just smelled off (a $1.20 bag of dried fruit) that we ended up pitching, but that has been a rare occurrence for us. I regularly buy outdated boxes of cereal for $1, boxes of organic granola bars for $1.25, and organic baby food pouches for $.39. The last trip I made, I bought a 12 roll pack of Scott 1,000 sheet toilet paper for $5. This is one store that I do stock up on whatever I can get when I do make the trek out.
  • Chain discount stores. There are two Ollie’s Bargain Outlets within 30 minutes of us. I recently discovered that I could also get organic granola bards for $1/box there, too! I already like to stop in here to check out their book selection so it’s not out of my way to walk across the store to see what grocery deals they have. My favorite score so far has been a $7.99 box of Larabar Alt protein bars, 15 bars! Big Lots also has grocery deals sometimes, but I am not in that store regularly.
  • Costco. I big puffy pink heart love Costco. We buy all sorts of things at Costco, like books, movies, clothes, batteries, printer paper, and the random awesome deals that show up. I drive almost 45 minutes every other week to go to Costco. That’s how much I love it. As far as groceries go, we buy organic broccoli florets, packages of bell peppers ($6 for 6), bags of frozen organic fruit for smoothies, butter, cheese, and much much more.
  • Manager’s Special & Clearance. I always look for these when I grocery shop. I know where they are in the local Krogers and can spot them in Meijer’s, too. It’s not dependable what you can find, but when you do find something, it’s usually quite the score. We like Larabars here. They are regularly on sale for $1, I found some on manager’s special once for $.75. Those quarters really do add up! I especially love when I find them on manager’s special and have a Swagbucks coupon to use on top of it. Score!

How I Meal Plan

Over the years, it’s changed. I’ve done the following:

  • Fly by the seat of my pants. We eat a lot of spaghetti and breakfast for dinners during these times. It gets old.
  • Detailed breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and treats for one week and two week intervals. I never stick to this.

Now, I do this. I come up with 7 dinners, 3-4 lunches, 3-4 breakfasts, and a handful of fruits, veggies, and other snacks. I put them on a piece of paper and then check them off as I use them. I make sure to mark if the meal is something special like a crockpot meal so that I don’t wait too long to start those. This seems to give me the balance of structure and flexibility that I need.

$100 Weekly Meal Plan

This is a sample of a $100 weekly meal plan for our home.

Breakfasts

  • Cereal – I buy these for $1-$2 per box. We will use 2-3 boxes per week plus a gallon of milk ($3 regularly priced, but regularly on sale for$2-$2.50 or free with other purchase promotions). We’ll overestimate to $9.
  • Eggs and toast – We have chickens that lay our eggs, which are not free because we do buy feed. However, it doesn’t come out of my grocery money and we don’t calculate the per egg cost. We are also often given day old bread from a bakery, which I freeze and we use as needed. The eggs I buy in the winter when our hens aren’t laying cost $2.50 per dozen. My husband eats 2 eggs for breakfast every morning and we will eat a batch of 6-8 scrambled eggs once or twice a week. So I will figure the cost for this at $7.50 for the eggs (3 dozen) and $2 for two loaves of store brand bread, for a total of $9.50 for the week.
  • Oatmeal – I buy this for $.79/lb. at the local bulk food store. A $3 bag lasts us well beyond a week because we don’t eat it frequently. I like to add cinnamon, a little sugar, and raisins. I buy our raisins from Costco, 2 – 36 oz bags for approximately $8. For a week’s worth of oatmeal we might use 1/4 of a bag, roughly $1. Sugar is bought from Costco as well, a 10 pound bag of organic evaporated cane sugar is $10. I use 1/4 cup for 6 cups of cooked oatmeal. I’m going to overestimate the sugar cost to $1 for the week. Total weekly+ cost $5.

Lunches

  • Leftovers – We eat a lot of leftovers for lunch. My husband takes them every day to work and we often have them at home. Cost = $0.
  • Pancakes – Sometimes we do bigger, more time consuming breakfast recipes for lunch. Pancakes and french toast are popular choices. I’ll use the 6 eggs left from the 3 dozen accounted for in our breakfasts for this. That gives me two lunches with a triple batch of pancakes. We often add chocolate chips to ours, but plain are just as yummy if I don’t have chocolate chips on hand (like now). I buy syrup from Costco, $6 for 2 huge bottles that last us months (obviously not real maple syrup). Flour and olive oil also bought at Costco. Baking powder is $2 for a can at Kroger. I buy Redmond Real Salt from Azure Standard. I used this article to help me estimate the cost, we make standard pancakes. Cost = $3.60 to have them twice in a week.
  • Sandwiches – Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make an appearance in our diet roughly once a week. The peanut butter we use is $6/jar because it is SO worth it. Jelly is either home canned, $1 jars from the discount store, or $4 quart jars from Costco. We never use a whole jar of either peanut butter or jelly, I’ll call it 1/3 because sometimes we do put jelly on our toast in the morning. Cost: $3.

Snacks

  • Granola bars – These are the $1-$1.25 boxes from discount stores. With the average of 6 in a box, the cost per bar is $.21. The kids are allowed 1-2 per day, depending on the day’s activities and other factors (some days they are simply more hungry). I will figure 5 boxes at $1.25 each. Cost = $6.25.
  • Apples and bananas – A bag of apples and 3 bunches of bananas. Cost = $6.
  • Chips and salsa – Cost is counted with a dinner below because we have about half of what I buy for the meal left. Cost = $0.

Dinners

  • Beef and Bean Dip – This has beans ($2 for dry), diced tomatoes ($1), ground beef ($4), onions ($1), and spices (nominal). We buy a big bag of tortilla chips from Costco for $5 and will use it for this meal, as a side with tacos, and as a snack. This makes lots of leftovers, I’ll share a detailed breakdown with a recipe in the future. Cost = $13.
  • Spaghetti – My marinara sauce costs less than $7 for an 8-quart stock pot full. And it smells delicious as it simmers, too. We use 1/4 of that for a meal (freeze the extra), plus 2 boxes of spaghetti ($2). Cost = $4.
  • Pizza – I’ll use another 1/4 of the marinara sauce here (less than $2). I buy mozzarella cheese pre-shredded from Costco, $12 for a 5 pound bag. I don’t think we use 1/4 of the package, but I’ve never actually measured how much we do use ($3). We top our pizza with pepperoni ($3/package that we don’t fully use in one week), pineapple tidbits ($1), bell peppers ($2), and any variety of items we have left from other meals like onions, mushrooms, etc. I home make our pizza dough in my Kitchenaid mixer (estimating based on this to $1). This makes us 2 large pizzas, usually enough for leftovers. We pair this with home canned green beans ($0). Cost = $12.
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes – We actually successfully grew potatoes in our garden this year! But for the sake of this, I’ll estimate the cost of a 5 pound bag ($2 on sale regularly). We top our baked potatoes with sour cream ($1 on sale), cheddar cheese (bought at Costco, shredded at home for $8 for a two pound block of Tillamook medium cheddar, cost for this meal’s worth is $3), sauteed broccoli ($2), and bacon (Coleman’s uncured, $12 for 3 packages at Costco, $4). Cost = $12.
  • Tacos – We brown up 2 pounds of ground beef with an onion ($6). Other parts to this meal – taco shells ($1), tortilla shells ($1), salsa ($5 from Costco, see snacks), lettuce ($1), cheese ($3), sour cream ($1), and jalapenos ($3 for a jar that lasts us a few meals). Total cost = $21.
  • Veggie Stew – This is a pretty cheap meal to put together. I home make our chicken broth (so super easy) and will pair that with a can of tomato juice ($3) for the base. Then I add in a bunch of celery ($1), carrots ($1′s worth), a couple potatoes ($1), a turnip or two ($1), and an onion ($1). Then, voila! I have an 8-quart pot of stew. I’ll even toss in leftover corn, frozen green beans, and other veggies that I have leftover from other meals into the pot for a different soup each time. Total cost = $8.
  • White Chili – This is from one of the Fix It and Forget It cookbooks. It costs $10 for a large crockpot full.

And there you have it, a meal plan that will feed my family of 6 for a full 7 days for a total of $122.35.

Free Meal Planning Pages

I made a set of meal planning pages for you. There are two weekly meal plan pages, a page for shopping lists, and coordinating recipe cards.

Free Meal Planning Pages from Vicki-Arnold.com

Download yours today!

$100 Grocery Challenge Links

$100 Grocery Challenge

Below you will find more tips, tricks, and helps for saving money feeding your family.

Share your tips in the comments!

Teach Them Diligently 2014 – Early Bird Discount & Bonus Savings

Early bird discount AND a discount code for Teach Them Diligently 2014

Teach Them Diligently Conventions

Note: I am an affiliate of Teach Them Diligently.

This past May, I had the privilege of attending Teach Them Diligently‘s Nashville regional convention. Our family had a great time. We were greatly energized by hearing the speakers encouraging homeschool families to put discipleship first, stand firm on truth, and trust God to lead our homeschools.

In 2014, Teach Them Diligently is growing. In addition to the three regional conferences in Nashville, Spartanburg, and Dallas, there is a national conference in Washington, D.C! If you’ve ever wanted to take a family field trip to our nation’s capital, next May would be a GREAT time to do so.

2014 Teach Them Diligently Speakers

In addition to the locations, Teach Them Diligently has announced some of the speakers for the 2014 conference season. These include Ken Ham, Mark Hamby, Todd Friel, Rachael Carmen, Voddie Baucham, and Carol Barnier.

We sat in on some of Ken Ham’s sessions last time and highly recommend hearing his message if at all possible. Our kids loved the dinosaur session (we did, too!). We also enjoyed speaking briefly with Mr. Ham after the session. Well, my husband did, I was containing our newly mobile little guy out of the way.

Teach Them Diligently Pricing

Right now you can register for Teach Them Diligently for $45 for the whole family! Regular price is $75, a $30 savings for planning ahead.

AND! I have a discount code for you!

You can save an additional $9 with the code TTD9OFF through October 6th!

That means for $36, your whole family can enjoy a homeschool convention unlike any other. There are other options available, like the children’s program and men’s breakfast, too.

So tell me…

Which location are you registering for?

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014

The Well Planned Day Family Homeschool Planner

The Well Planned Day (a family homeschool planner review)

It’s no secret that I reviewed and loved another planner earlier this year. It’s also not a secret that I like planners and lists. So when I was contacted to see if I would be interested in reviewing The Well Planned Day planner, me jumping at the chance wouldn’t be an inaccurate image.

Three things before I get into the review. I was provided a free planner so I could, you know, look it over and review it. I am a registered affiliate with HEDUA. Finally, this is a review of The Well Planned Day, not a comparison to any other planner (free or paid).

About The Well Planned Day

The Well Planned Day is a family homeschool planner created by Rebecca Scarlata Keliher. This planner was created to cover everything a homeschool family needed to track and plan. It is very thorough.

Details

  • spiral bound with three-hole punch for inserting in binders
  • full color
  • includes year and month at a glance calendars
  • is dated for the school year, which runs July through June (copy I received is 2013-2014)
  • includes a short inspirational article for each month (titles in my review copy include 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Homeschooling, Book Gluttony, and Let Your Kids be Kids)
  • planning/tracking pages for household management and holiday shopping included
  • track up to four students in one planner with class plans, schedules, attendance charts, progress reports, and perforated report cards
  • Bible reading plan included on the monthly calendar, scripture quotes throughout the book, and a weekly catechism focus

My Review of The Well Planned Day Planner

First, I did not take any photos of the inside pages of this planner for copyright issues, but you can see 90 pages of the planner on the preview page. And really, those are much better than any photo I could give you. Now, on with the review!

Oh, my stars. This planner is gorgeous! Each month has a subtly different color scheme that helps give a fresh look to your eyes, but keeps with the overall design of the planner. And normally, I’m not a floral type girl, but I LOVE the floral design of this planner. Also, purple is a very frequent color in this planner and you can’t go wrong with purple in my book.

The content? Seriously, I can’t believe how well this is organized. It has goals. It has menu planning. It has perforated shopping lists, six for each month! It has budgeting forms. It has a section each month for books to enjoy, field trips/enrichment activities, and monthly bills.

To be a little more helpful, I will take you through a few things.

First we have your basic information and a fun little family time capsule type page, followed by a staying in touch page where you can track monthly celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries. Then we move into the household pages for things like monthly budgets, income, household duties, and emergency contacts.

Then there is something that I think is completely genius. There is a perforated page for your students’ responsibilities and educational to do’s each day. I intend to finally buy a laminator and laminate the filled out cards for a checklist for each student. After that comes your homeschool planning pages.

What I love about the homeschool planning pages is that each student is given a two page spread to include their personal information, subjects and books, expenses, and a student schedule. I find this particularly helpful since each student has their own activities to track and oftentimes, their own daily rhythm or routine. I like that I can help each student visualize how their time is or should be spent.

There are two semester goals pages (one before July and one before January). At the end of December, there is an attendance record and progress report for four students.

Each month starts with a month at a glance two page spread that includes an inspirational quote, Bible verses for reading through the Bible in a year, and a notes section. Then comes the page with the sections for books, field trips, and bills. Next are the six, double-sided, perforated shopping lists (brilliant!!) and the inspirational article.

Now, the nitty gritty pages you will be using every day. And a confession for you, I realized I LOVE the fact that this planner is dated because I don’t like the way my handwriting looks so different than the rest of the text on pages that I have to fill in the dates (or subjects). I told you, I am pretty visually picky.

Each week has a two page spread. Each day has a column that is broken down by rows for Bible, Math, History, Science, English, and two custom spots. I love that Bible is top priority in the list. On top of the page are the current and next month at a glance calendars; a Bible verse; and an inspirational quote. On the right-hand page, there are sections for weekly priorities, your weekly dinner menu, and a weekly catechism question. I also love that there is a box for both Saturday and Sunday so you can mark your weekend activities in your planner, too.

Other details: a holiday planner section comes before December (LOVE), fonts are easy to read and pretty to look at, and the planner ends with a year at a glance look at next year and a future plans page.

Overall, I didn’t think I could love a planner as much as the other one, but I actually love this one more (sorry, there is a comparison)! I love that it is a homeschool family planner, not just a homeschool planner. I love that everything I need is in this one planner. The planner costs around $26 and is worth every penny.

There are a few different options available, so check out the Well Planned Day planners and see which one you would like! Next, I want to try out their On the Go planner. ;)

Meijer Most Likely To Sweepstakes

Most Likely To...photo sweepstakes brought to you by Meijer! Learn more in this post at Vicki-Arnold.com

You probably already guessed that this is a sponsored post, right? Meaning I received some fantastically huge payment in exchange for some space here on the ol’ blog, right? Well, not exactly.

But I am receiving a Meijer gift card in exchange for telling you about this fun sweepstakes they have going on. I get groceries, you get fun sweepstakes. See, win-win!

Most Likely To…Sweepstakes

Meijer is inviting shoppers to post a photo that shows their kids’ unique talents and interests in becoming the next great valedictorian, athlete, humanitarian chef, etc.

Why? Well, for the chance to win a $100 Meijer gift card (25 grand prizes). That would buy a lot of school clothes or supplies (you can never have too many pencils, paper, and tissues!). Or lunch time groceries, in case you have already bought your supplies and don’t need more clothes.

The ‘Most Likely To…’ photo sweepstakes runs until Sept. 8, 2013. So you need to get on it quickly!

How to Enter the Sweepstakes

Simply visit the sweepstakes page and submit a photo showing what your child is most likely to be when he/she grows up.

Our Most Likely To… Photos!

We couldn’t let you have all the fun. I decided to play along and choose a “most likely to…” title for my oldest three children. The 19 month old is pretty much the Most Likely to…Be Spoiled Rotten by All the Attention at this point. We’ll see what else develops as he grows.

My oldest is the quintessential oldest. She is very responsible and bossy, um, I mean take charge… She wants to be a teacher at this point and I can see this fitting her very well. She has always been a nurturer and loves little kids.

Please do not pin photos of my children's faces. There is a graphic for this post above. Thank you!

My oldest son seems to have found his niche in cartooning. He is currently creating his first comic book with an original character that I hope to share with you all sometime. Because he is also an entrepreneur…

Please do not pin photos of my children's faces. There is a graphic for this post above. Thank you!

My youngest daughter is one of those super sweet, silly girls. She has a tender heart that loves to serve. She often gets frustrated when she isn’t allowed to serve when she wants to (see above mentioned sister ;) ).

Please do not pin photos of my children's faces. There is a graphic for this post above. Thank you!

What is your child most likely to be? Don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win a $100 Meijer gift card!

3 Reasons Tell Your Time is Awesome

3 reasons Tell Your Time is awesome! Final post of the How Do I Teach Organization & Time Management Skills...When I Have Neither? series.

Previously: why I need to change, how I can change, when do I teach this, and some places to start.

To bring this series to a close, I could walk you through time management 101, tips, tricks, and some tools to get you there. In fact, that is originally what I was going to call this post. As I started writing though, the thought kept popping up that I never reviewed an ebook that I read and loved so much on the subject of time management.

So, instead of me sharing MY tips. I am going to share the resource that finally made a lot of things “click” for me in this area. And as an added bonus, I am going to gift a copy to one lovely reader. I am keeping this one super, super simple. More on that below.

Friendly disclaimer: I use affiliate links in this post.

The ebook is called Tell Your Time and it is written by Amy Lynn Andrews. Amy writes an awesome blog about blogging called Blogging with Amy. She is also a wife, homeschool mom, and a virtual assistant. In other words, she’s busy. She was kind enough to share her time management wisdom with all of us the ebook.

Three Reasons Tell Your Time is Awesome

1. It is a quick read.

Anyone who needs time management help doesn’t need a novel to wade through on the subject. Amen? The ebook is organized well and without a lot of fluff.

2. Two words, common sense.

She lays the concepts out in a very sensible way. She isn’t revealing or promising to reveal anything “revolutionary,” which is rather refreshing in a world that overflows with marketing buzz words like revolutionary and new!

I appreciate that she took me step by step and made me face some truths that I needed to face. Like the simple fact that you can’t do everything all at once.

3. Making a schedule has never been easier.

You know me, I love my lists and schedules. Well, making them anyways. After I read through the book and did the exercises, I sat down and put our stuff on paper in a schedule that actually reflected our REAL life. I can’t tell you how profoundly this impacted me.

I spend so much time thinking I’m spinning my wheels and getting no where. Seeing our schedule on paper helped me to realize two things:

  1. We have a LOT on our plate. Seeing it on paper actually helped me make some cuts in our activities and empowered me to say NO when I needed to. I could physically see that I simply did not have the time to commit to one more thing.
  2. I was wasting a lot of time. Ouch. That one still stings and is a constant battle for me. Facing the fact that I have enough time to get everything done if I will just put my mind to it was hard because it meant admitting that I was being lazy in some areas.

Now, I want to pass along the blessing that is this ebook to one of you.

To enter the drawing to win the ebook Tell Your Time, answer this question in the comments below:

What is one thing that you want to do, but never seem to have the time for?

Be sure to use a valid email address, I’m not adding you to any list or using the info for any deceitful reasons. I just need it to contact you if you win. The giveaway will end August 31, 2013. If you do not want to wait that long to win the ebook, you can buy it for $3 on Amazon. Seriously…$3.

Typecrush Word Game {a review}

Typecrush (a word game) review

Typecrush Word Game Review

Typecrush is a new game with very simple rules, or rule, really. There is only one rule. Whoever guesses the word gets to choose the next word. That’s it. You can add any rules you want to change it up, which brings me to the first thing I love about this game…

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, I need to tell you that I received a free game from Typecrush in exchange for my honest, awesome (ha!) opinion. I also would like to tell you that you can see what my fellow Mosaic Review bloggers thought of the game, too.

About Typecrush

From the company:

“Typecrushâ„¢ is a word game based on letter frequency analysis—how frequently letters appear in the English language. It’s kind of like a color-coded hangman, but way more entertaining and educational. Best for players age seven and older, Typecrush is as simple or challenging as your imagination decides.”

Each Typecrush game is made and assembled in the United States of America (I love this fact!) AND it is made with 100% recycled materials. Pretty handy dandy. The game costs $25 and they currently offer free shipping.

You can connect with the company several ways to learn more:

Typecrush (a new word game) review

How to Play Typecrush

Each letter of the alphabet has been placed on a set of round chips. Each colored circle represents a letter from the corresponding color bar in the chart. They are color coded by how often they are used.

You choose a word (don’t let anyone else see it!) and lay the chips face down. Then everyone else tries to guess, using the charts that come with it. You can print more if you have a lot of players.

We played with just two all the way up the five of us that can read. You can set themes to make the words easier to guess (states, capitals, household items). You can use small, three and four letter words with your beginning readers or longer vocabulary words with older students and adults.

Our Typecrush Review

I first played this with my 10-year-old daughter. She caught on pretty quickly and LOVED it. She regularly breaks out the game and invites others to play with her. Unless she asks a busy adult, she usually gets a yes.

We’ve played using names and random words. The kids will guess letters and flip them over until the others guess the word.

You know that thing I was jumping ahead of myself with before? Well, it is flexibility. This game has it. You can play for as long as you want, when my daughter asks to play, I am more willing to say yes because you can literally play for 5 minutes or 50.

You can use this with any subject. Reading about explorers? Try using explorers names or the countries they came from. Learning about weather? Then use words like clouds, rain, or precipitation. Use it to practice spelling or vocabulary words. I love how hands-on and easy this is.

I do have two minor issues with the game. We found the yellow and the green hard to differentiate in certain lights. And the instruction and chart cards are sort of difficult to get back in the tube with the game.

So tell me, what do you think?

How to Read Blogs & Not Feel Like a Failure

Do you ever feel like bloggers have it all together? That you are the only one who can't do it all? Let me tell you a few things about bloggers at Vicki-Arnold.com

There seems to be an epidemic of guilt and feelings of failure rolling through blog readers these days. I am truly saddened by this because I know not one blogger who desires to make their readers feel this way.

I know I have been guilty of this myself in my “real” life and my online life. I see these women who are giants in an area and put them on a pedestal…without even realizing it. I finally realized what I was doing when I saw a woman I thought was this pillar of strength and faith break down in tears in a quiet setting…and I felt relieved. Relieved that this woman did NOT, in fact, have it all together.

And then I traded the guilt of not measuring up for the guilt of being relieved that someone else was suffering. You see, this guilt is a never ending cycle because we will never measure up. Never.

I wrote about guilt before and if you are dealing heavily with guilt, I want you to do two things. First, read this post. Second, email me through the contact page and let me know how I can pray for you.

For this post, I want to tackle the specific blogger-induced guilt running rampant. I want to tackle it and rip off the myths covering the truth like a cheap band-aid.

Myth #1: Bloggers are perfect.

People, please. Behind that blog is a person. Some of them do have their stuff together better than you in some areas, but I would be willing to bet that you have a better handle on other areas in life. For example, I am pretty good at this blogging thing (dude, that was painful to write…) and you may feel like a monkey when you try to write. That’s ok.

Wanna know where I struggle? Well, for the sake of brevity, I will share just one with you. You know that garden I wrote about earlier this year? Let me show you what it looks like right now…

Vicki, Vicki, how does your garden grow? Like this.

It’s a beauty, eh? (This is the result of those dastardly squash bugs, the rest of the mess I was going to show you my husband weedwhacked this past weekend. I kind of blew this garden this year…again.)

Please cut yourself some slack and do not measure your whole life against the very small portion of someone’s life that they put on the internet. Or the lots of small portions you see from lots of bloggers. Please.

Myth #2: Bloggers must have it all together to have the time to blog.

No. We have simply found a rhythm and balance that works for our family. Or not. Seriously, blogging takes time and that time spent blogging is not being spent doing a variety of things. It is a simple fact. If you are doing one thing, you can’t be doing another.

Many bloggers utilize things like crock pots; late nights and/or early mornings; and messy houses to make blogging work. It is a matter of priorities and someone else’s priorities should never make you feel inferior in yours.

Something that took me a long time to grasp is that sometimes it is a matter of life seasons. When I had three under the age of 4, there was no way on earth I would have had time to blog. I barely had time to bathe. Now that my kids are a little older (10, 9, 7, and 18m), when the toddler goes down for a nap, they go outside or do something on their own. This often leaves me with time to work.

Myth #3: Bloggers are online all the time and still have it all together.

Ha! Let me let you in on a little secret. Did you know that you can schedule things to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest? Yep. And we savvy bloggers do this so that we can be “online” when our readers are because the more often we are out there, the more likely you are to see our stuff. And the more people that see our stuff, the more traffic we get. The more traffic we get, well, I explained that in this post.

We interact when we are online and schedule things to share for when we aren’t. This is why it looks like we sit in front of a computer all day long. I could actually sit on Pinterest all day long, but something about naked kids being frowned upon and all.

Which brings me to the last myth I will tackle here:

Myth #4: Bloggers’ food/homeschool/houses/decor/etc. looks like a Pinterest pin.

Dude, you don’t even know how far from the truth this is. I love pinning things like lapbooks, DIY projects, and party ideas. And I DO use some of them, but…insert a big BUT here.

In real life, our homeschool has a lot of workbooks and frustrated mama moments. My sewing machine is currently buried under a pile of crap (not literal, thank heavens), and my kids are lucky if I let them break out the balloons and blow them up for parties. Because I don’t need something else to clean up. Amen?

You may not know this, but bloggers spend a good deal of time and effort into creating those “perfect” projects. Some do it simply for the fun of it and some do it because their blog is a business and traffic = money to a blogger.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to do everything you see on the internet. I see tattoos all over Pinterest, but that doesn’t make me feel guilty about not having one (needles!!). Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want the mess of glitter in your house and therefore don’t do that super spectacular glitter craft. And your kids may even turn out ok. ;)

Be the mom God intended you to be. Be you. Lose the guilt, please.

Teach Them Diligently {12 Days of Christmas in July 2013}

12 Days of Christmas in July giveaway series @ www.vicki-arnold.com :: Day 9 - a family registration to Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention 2014!

Today’s Sponsor and Prize

For today’s giveaway, we have a family registration to the Teach Them Diligently 2014 regional convention of your choice! You probably know that I am an affiliate for Teach Them Diligently, but I would still recommend this convention if I wasn’t.

What started the process that eventually led to our family going to the Nashville convention in May was winning a family registration from another blog giveaway. From there God worked in ways that blew me away to arrange the trip. He brought the finances for the trip in a way that was completely unexpected and blessed my heart tremendously. His fingerprints were all over our Nashville trip.

I have written about and for Teach Them Diligently here on the blog, here are some posts for more information:

I am honored to be able to give away a family registration to one blessed reader. The dates and location specifics will be announced this week, but here is what is 2014 is looking like:

Teach Them Diligently 2014

When the exact details are announced, I will update this post. :)

UPDATE! Here are the dates:

Teach Them Diligently 2014 dates

Giveaway

By the way, you can’t even BUY this yet. So this is like super, duper awesome. It’s exclusive and stuff. And awesome. Did I mention it was awesome?

Be sure to hop over to the 12 Days of Christmas in July giveaway series main page to enter the rest of the open giveaways before they close!

Homeschool Newsletter

Don’t forget to sign up for the Homeschool Newsletter and enter the subscriber only giveaway going on through the end of the month!

 

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