Busy, busy, busy: If you’re a mom, it’s a constant state of life. Whether it’s doing the 9-to-5, keeping children fed and prepped for Zoom school, caring for an elderly loved one, or all three — we see you, sandwich-generation moms — mothers could do with a bit more help. Which is why OZY has teamed up with Walmart to offer smart takes on how to make busy moms’ lives a little easier. And since we know you don’t have much time, let’s get on with it.
Tracy Moran, Deputy Editor
tired of meatloaf monday?
A routine can quickly become a rut when it comes to regular offerings at the dinner table (or on TV trays, we don’t judge). So try these quick hits to liven up your meals.
1. Easy Enchiladas
A nourishing, family-friendly cheese-topped dish that’s ready to pop in the oven in less than 30 minutes.
Heat oil in large skillet and sauté onions until soft.
Add beef to pan and cook through. Pour in 1½ cups water, add taco seasoning and stir until combined. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes and rice and simmer to reduce liquid.
Coat baking sheet with nonstick spray and top with bell peppers, cut side up.
Fill each pepper with meat and rice mixture.
Top each with shredded cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until peppers soften and cheese turns golden brown.
Makes 4–6 servings.
Get your Old El Paso and other ingredients today at Walmart.com.
your finance fix
1. Better Budget Bets
Just as committing to a diet starts with stepping on the scale, scaling back expenses and reining in debt starts with taking a panoramic view of your spending habits. Whether you’re saving for a 2021 vacation, a new car or retirement, success depends on smart budgeting. Create a spreadsheet and track your monthly expenses by category. This will give you a better sense of how much you’re spending on extras like movies and lattes versus essentials like utilities and rent or mortgage payments. If you’re really struggling to make ends meet, try budgeting by paycheck rather than by month.
2. Credit Card Charges You Can’t Afford to Forget
Those “first three months free” trials may seem harmless, but they are punishing your platinum card — and hurting your chances for early retirement. Avoid these pitfalls by checking your credit card statements carefully and often. Small monthly charges might go unnoticed without this personal audit, which can help you cancel unnecessary subscriptions, flag fraudulent activity and remind you to limit what you spend on expensive extras. If you need help conducting a subscription audit, there are several apps that can help.
3. Side Hustles for Mom
On the other side of the ledger, there are any number of ways to boost your income in your (scarce, we know) free time. You can find flexible work assisting a startup virtually, teaching English online or taking photographs. Want even less commitment? Try couch-bound options like reviewing websites, watching videos or taking surveys. Yes, you can earn cash while holding a baby.
how to keep kids busy
1. Everyone Loves a Treasure Hunt
Packaging fresh air in the form of a game is always clever, and you’ll find that kids of all ages get excited when rewards are offered (think prizes). During beach holidays when my girls were little, I would set up treasure hunts with a plastic toy buried at the final destination. This led to lots of running around, digging and fun. It’s a bit cold for the beach where I am — sadly, I’m not based in the Maldives — but I love the idea of setting up a task-list adventure or alphabet treasure hunt for the family. The list can include activities like taking photos of something in nature that looks like the letter A, or collecting an array of colorful leaves or pebbles.
2. Bake in a Bit of Fun
Little kids enjoy donning tiny chef’s hats and aprons, stirring, whirring, mixing and dolloping to their heart’s delight. Older kids? They’re still happy to make the mess, and they’re even better at eating the treats than they were at age 4. If you need to sell it to your STEM kid, explain that baking is kitchen chemistry and there’s a science to making the perfect cookie or cakes.
3. Teach Cursive
While my penmanship is nothing to write home about, I do know how to loop my p’s and q’s together. And that’s more than I can say for most kids these days. Many schools no longer focus on the importance of cursive, but now we have more time with kids at home to get the job done ourselves. Make it a fun family activity, using colorful paper, gel pens and guides like this, and your kids will be writing like it’s 1999 in no time.
zoom school survival
1. How Much Engagement Is Just Right?
Some children love Zoom school; others hate it. For the best results, set alarms and encourage students to get out of their PJ’s, dress for school and eat breakfast at a table before the “bell” rings. Letting teens log in to classes from their beds is an invitation to nap, so it’s best to set them up at a table or desk. While teachers prefer that children appear on screen, ready and willing to learn, not all districts require it. Whatever a student’s online engagement level, it’s vital that you make sure your kids enjoy non-screen time each day, whether it’s taking a walk, playing kickball or giving that new hoverboard a try.
2. Let Them ‘Spend’ Time With Friends
That said, there is a very good reason to let children spend a little more time on their devices: It helps them make friends. Clubs and teams are still connecting virtually after school, offering everything from fitness, debate and foreign language chats to Among Us competitions. If your school doesn’t offer something that excites your child, encourage them to dream up an activity and approach administrators about forming a new club. That Among Us competition idea wasn’t just theoretical: My daughter invited her classmates to an after-school game, which led to the formation of a club.