Posted in blogging, Crafting Corner

9 Practical Tips To Help You Overcome Writer’s Block

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Have you ever suffered from a case of writer‘s block? You keep pounding away at the keys hoping that a topic will come to mind. You keep writing and writing the same post over and over again, but you just can’t seem to get it right.

I think we’ve all been there. Whether you are a blogger, author or a student writing a paper for English class, writer’s block doesn’t discriminate.

 It seems like the more you try to write the more frustrated you become. The good thing is that there are a few simple tricks to help you overcome writer’s block.

1. Walk Away

If you’ve been working on a blog post a few hours or days and aren’t getting anywhere your best bet is to walk away  for a little while. 

Get up from the computer and continue on with the rest of your day. Who knows maybe inspiration will strike you while your out grocery shopping. 

2. Exercise

Get out the house and walk around the neighborhood or go to the gym an do a quick workout. The exercise will get your blood pumping and release endorphins that can help boost your mood.

3. Change Locations

Sometimes you just need to change your surrounding to find inspiration. If you’ve been working in the house all day take your computer and go outside or go to a cafe.

4. Listen to Music

When I was in college I did my best work when I was listening to music. I would just put on my headphones, crank up the volume and just zone out. It was just me, my tunes and whatever it was I was studying that night.

5. Read A Book

Take a few minutes and sit down with your favorite book. Get lost in the story for a little while. 

6. Coloring

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. It is a great way to relieve stress and get your creative”juices” flowing again. Don’t worry they have coloring books for adults.

7. Play

Step away from whatever it is your writing and take some time to play. Whether you play with your kids, play a video game, or a card game. Go out and have some fun for a little bit.

8. Take a Shower/ Bath

Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re relaxing in the shower or tub. In my opinion there is nothing better than a hot shower to calm your mind.

9. Eat a Snack

Thinking uses a lot of energy. Take a time out and refuel your brain with a healthy snack.

Final Thoughts

Writer’s block can cause you to become stressed and unable to think.  When you get frustrated take time to step away from the computer and relax. It will help you refocus and get you back on the right track. 

Do you have a special technique that you use to overcome writer’s block? I’d love to hear it. Please feel free to share it in the comment section.

Don’t forget to like and share this post to social media. If you haven’t already, subscribe to my e-mail list.

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Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family

Having These 5 Skills Can Make You A More Effective Stay At Home Parent

Woman holding a child.
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When most adults hear the word ” skills” we automatically start thinking about jobs and resumes. It’s not a term one usually associates with parenting.

But parenting in and of itself is a job that requires many of the skills that we use in the business world and in everyday life. Some of these skills we learn in school and some of them we learn through life lessons.

These are the skills that many stay at home parents need to call upon if they want to have an enjoyable experience as a stay at home parent.

I am going to share with you the top 5 skills that all stay at home parents need to master to be an effective and happy stay at home parents.

1. Money Management

Piggy bank with coins on the floor around it.
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Unless you’re married to a billionaire or are fortunate enough to have your own personal accountant learning how to manage your families money is an important skill all adults should learn.

However, as evidenced by the amount of debt most Americans have it is a skill that most of us have not mastered. This skill is even more important when you are living on one income.

A few basic money management techniques that all stay at home parents should master are budgeting and couponing.

Budgeting

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who was a big fan of budgeting. But budgeting has several benefits such as:

  • Allowing you to take control of your finances.
  • Help you keep track of your spending.
  • Help you save for family vacations, emergency expenses, and help pay down deb.
  • It can help you produce extra money.
  • It enables you to communicate with your spouse about finances.

If you would like to learn more about budgeting you can read my post on budgeting and the different kinds of budgets here.

Couponing

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s watched extreme couponing and wished that they could buy $500 worth of food for .30.

Besides paying for a place to live your monthly food bill probably takes a huge chunk of your paycheck. A family of 4 can easily spend $400- 500 a month on food.

Couponing is a great way to help you reduce your family’s monthly grocery expenses. You can usually find coupons in the Sunday paper, but you can also get and print coupons online.

MoneyPantry has a list of 61 sites that offer free printable grocery coupons.

If you’re not sure how to use your coupons to get the best savings check out The Krazy Coupon Lady. She compiles all of the best deals and shows you how to combine your coupons to get the most savings.

Coupons are not just great for saving on groceries, they’re also great for saving on clothing and other nonfood related items.

Cash Back Apps

Cashback apps work just as well as coupons and can be used with coupons to help increase your savings.

Popular Grocery Cash Back Apps

There are several different grocery apps that you can use to get cash back on your grocery purchases. My favorites are Ibotta and Checkout 51, but there are several other cashback apps out there.

Popular General Cash Back Apps

There are also cash back apps that can be used on general purchases such as clothing and gas.

You usually have to link these apps to your credit card so it can track your purchases. My favorite general cash back apps are receipt hog and ebates.

  • Receipt Hog– gives you points for uploading receipts every week. These points can be used to redeem gift cards or cash.
  • Ebates gives you cash back on items you buy from select stores like JCPenney, Amazon, Kohl’s etc
  • Dosh cash back on purchases made in select stores online and instore
  • Paribus– monitors price drops from stores that you’ve made purchases.at and gets you a refund on the adjusted price.

All of these apps can help you save money on your everyday purchases and help you keep and maintain your family budget.

2.Time Management

Red clock sitting in the grass.
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Another important skill that we all need to brush up on is our time management.

As a stay at home parent, it’s tempting to think that you have all the time in the world to get the things you want to do done.

I know I did when I first started my stay at home journey. I didn’t take me long to realize that trying to get things done with 1-4 kids running around the house was a lot harder and a lot more time consuming than I thought.

Your time is a valuable asset and we should use the time that we have during the day wisely.

One of the best ways to make sure that we are using our time wisely as stay at home parents is to create routines and find ways to keep organized.

Routines

Before I became a stay at home mom I didn’t really give a second thought to creating or sticking to a routine because my day was already planned out for me. Work, home, food, bed, repeat.

It wasn’t too long into my transition as a stay at home mom that I realized that not having a daily routine was not going to help me keep my sanity or keep my kids alive.

Every family can benefit from having a daily routine. Having a daily routine will:

  • Help you be more productive during the day.
  • Help you break bad habits (like procrastination).
  • Improves your mental health by providing you time to relax.
  • Allows you to decide how your day goes.
  • Benefits your kids.

Some people like to schedule every minute of the day and some like a more flexible schedule.

I would suggest creating a schedule that works best for you and your family. If you have smaller kids a more flexible schedule might work better for you, then a ridge one.

Here is a peek at my family’s morning routine:

5:00 AM- Wake-up/Read the Bible and Pray

6:30 AM Wake-Up Kids & Get Ready for school

7:45 AM Drop off kids

9:00 AM Work-Out/ Baby Nap Time

10:00 AM Clean up

11:00 AM Cook Lunch

12:00 PM Pick Up Kids/Lunch

As you can see there are some big gaps in parts of my schedule, but that just gives me some extra time, just in case things don’t go as planned.

If I could emphasize one thing about creating your daily routine it would be to schedule some “Me” time during the day. Even if you can’t manage it every day at least shoot for once a week.

Dealing with kids all day can be fun and stressful. You need that time to just get away and relax, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Trust me it will make a huge difference.

Organization

I will admit that being organized is something that I struggle with a lot. When I taught high school I was that science teacher that had piles of paper all over the place. I liked to call it organized chaos.

As you can imagine some of my organized chaos habits spilled over into my home life, which when your only living in your house from 4-9 pm every day it’s not really that big of a deal.

But all of that changed once I started being home all day. I went from spending 5 waking hours in the house to 16 waking hours in the house. A very cluttered small house.

I quickly realized that I needed to get organized and quick. One of the best techniques I’ve used for organizing and decluttering my home is fairly simple.

Step 1- Pick an area to declutter.

Step 2- Create three piles (you can use bins if you want) keep, toss, donate

Step 3- Set a timer for 30 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the size of the room)

Step 4- Organize and put back everything in the keep pile.

Step 5- Get rid of everything else ASAP!

The last step very important. If you don’t throw away or donate the stuff in those piles it will slowly make its way back into your house. Trust me I know.

Declutter and organizing your home can be very overwhelming. That’s why I think it’s important to start small and set a time limit. Even better you can enlist the help of a friend or your family to help with the process.

If you don’t finish in the time limit you can either keep going or start again later. Don’t expect everything to be perfect, but having an organized home makes cleaning and finding things easier.

I don’t even want to imagine how much time I wasted searching for keys, book bags, and coats because everything was all over the house.

Once you’ve managed to get everything organized you should make decluttering a regular part of your cleaning routine. If not you’ll find yourself back in a state of organized or not so organized chaos.

3.Communication

Woman texting on a cell phone.
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The next skill that we will need to brush up on is our communication and networking skills.

Setting Expectations

The transition from financial independence to dependent can be a hard one for both spouses. It is important for both spouses to learn how to communicate clearly, respectfully and openly with each other.

You should both sit down and discuss what your expectations are for yourself and for each other.

I can tell you for a fact that most stay at home parents set unrealistic expectations for themselves and other people set unrealistic expectations on them.

Despite the fact that being a stay at home mom is a choice that many women and some dads choose to make it is still clouded in negative stereotypes and false beliefs about what it is a stay at home parent does all day.

Most people think that we just sit at home baking cookies and watching Netflix all day. That raising kids is easy and since you’re not doing anything all day, then you must have ample time to cook, clean, fold laundry, and save the world.

The fact is that being in the house with kids all day is hard work. Cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, picking and dropping kids off at their various activities, going to playgroups and arranging playdates, grocery shopping, managing the household budget all take considerable time, effort, and skill. *steps off soapbox*

It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination especially when you’re first starting out. So dear stay at home parent if you are feeling overwhelmed please communicate this with your spouse. And both of you set realistic expectations for each other.

Social Networking

If you are an introvert, like me, social networking is a hard skill to manage. This is the part of parenting that requires you to make friends with/ or at least talk to other parents.

If you were a social butterfly in high school, then this process will be a bit easier for you. Better yet if you already have friends with age-appropriate kids that’s even better.

Making friends as an adult is just as complicated and awkward as it was when you were in school. Honestly, I’m not even sure how I made friends in high school or as an adult. I guess it helped that I was an athlete so I had some form of social skills.

Still, my idea of a good time is sitting at home with my family watching anime or Netflix. Going to birthday parties, play groups, and other social functions kids might attend is way outside my wheelhouse.

But I love my kids so I make an effort to get out there and try to make grown-up friends or at least to be friendly.

Maybe you’re socially challenged like me here is a great post about making parent friends. Apparently, there are also apps to help you make mom/dad friends.

4. Basic Homemaking

Person moping the floor.
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Every stay at home parent should brush up on all the basic homemaking skills: cooking, cleaning, and sewing. The main reason we became stay at home parents was to spend time with our kids. So my philosophy is that we should work smarter, not harder in these areas.

Cooking

Earlier we talked about budgeting and how your food budget is usually your largest expense. This is especially true if your family eats out often. The average family of four can spend anywhere from $20- 30 on take-out per meal.

So if you go to McDonald’s for lunch and Burger King for dinner you’ve easily spent $40 on food alone. If that happens once a week that can easily add up to $160.00 for the month.

Making meals at home is cheaper and healthier for you and your family. It can also be time-consuming.

Meal planning can be an effective way to save time and money on groceries every week.

Thekitchen.com has an excellent post on meal planning called beginners guide to meal planning.

I’ve only tried meal planning in a very limited capacity. My family does theme meal days. For example, Monday is Meatless Monday. Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, and Thursday is Takeout Thursday.

While I don’t know what meal I’m making for dinner I do at least have an idea of what I need to buy for those meals during the week.

Another tip that I read was to use your kid’s school lunch menu to help you plan your meals.

If you have kids that don’t go to school you can easily use the lunch menu to plan what you kids at home will be having for lunch for the rest of the month.

Cleaning

Like cooking, cleaning is another basic skill that we could all brush up on. The best way I’ve found to keep my home clean is to set up a cleaning routine.

My personal routine involves cleaning one spot in the house daily for 30 minutes. On Saturday I spend an hour cleaning and decluttering a specific area in the house.

Monday-Bathroom

Tuesday- Kitchen

Wednesday- Hallways

Thursday- Bedrooms

Friday- Living Room

Saturday- deep cleaning 1 area

Saturday cleaning usually doesn’t take to long if I’ve stuck to the weekly schedule.

If you have older children it is important to remember that they can help keep the house clean as well. Don’t be afraid to put them to work.

Some other cleaning routines that you might want to check out:

Sewing

While sewing is not a necessary skill I do think it’s a worthwhile skill to have when you have small children. My youngest son is constantly getting holes in his shirts and pants.

Learning how to patch the holes in his jeans and how to sew closed the holes in his shirts has helped extend the shelf life of his clothes.

You don’t need a fancy machine for basic sewing all you need is a needle and thread. It will definitely come in handy one day.

5. Research

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Locating Free Resources

Every city has a host of free resources at your disposal. The question is whether or not you know about them.

Being able to locate these resources will come in handy when you need to find things to keep your little ones entertained during the day.

Check the following places for information on free family-friendly activities:

  • City website and facebook page
  • Local recreation center
  • City Parks
  • Local library
  • YMCA

All of these places should be able to direct you on the right path. You can also find free parenting classes, money management classes, and health and nutrition classes.

Final Thoughts

Before I wrap up my list of skills there is one more important skill that I forgot to mention above. The final skill that all stay at home parents need is having a sense of humor.

Sometimes as adults, we take ourselves too seriously and we forget the reason why we even decided to become a stay at home parent.

This a time for us to enjoy our children and to spend time with them. So if the house is still a little messy that’s ok. If the routine gets thrown off because the kids put yogurt all over the floor, don’t stress.

Just take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the messiness and silliness that is our kids.

They say that laughter is the best medicine. So remember not to take yourself too seriously and to make plenty of time for laughter and smiles with your kiddos.

Whether we are stay at home parents or working parents we could all use some brushing up on at least one of the five skills discussed today.

In my opinion, no skills are more important than the others and we need all five of them to make our journey as stay at home parents a positive and effective one.

Is there one skill that you think is more important than all of the rest? Do you have a particular routine or organization strategy you like to use? Or maybe you think one of these skills makes you more effective than the others.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section. If you thought this post was really helpful or insightful please feel free to share it.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Faith, Lifestyle

You Can Study The Bible With These 5 Easy and Effective Acronyms

Only 14% of adults in the US read their Bible daily.

American Bible Society, March 2018

In a recent study performed by the American Bible Society, it was reported that only 14% of adults in the US read their Bible daily (March 2018).

As a Christian I find this number to be quite alarming. It is apparent that many of us are not reading the word of God as we should, let alone studying it.

Can I be real with you for a moment?

Reading the Bible, let alone studying it, can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you are a new believer or you don’t know how to study.

After all the bible is made of 66 books divided into two sections the Old and New Testament.

The Old Testament consists of books of history, poetry, and prophecy, while the New Testament consists of the Gospels, Letters, and 1 book of prophecy.

Where does one even start? Do you just open the bible and just start reading whatever page you land on? (If you’re a new Christian I recommend starting in the book of John.)

Then you have to decide what version/translation of the bible you want to read: NIV, KJV, ESV, NLT, HSBC…It can all be a bit much.

Once again if you’re a new Christian I would recommend an NIV, NLT, or ESV Bible.

Luckily for us, there are a whole host of Bible apps that you can use for free that will let you read different versions of the bible.

So that part shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

But wait… isn’t it the Pastors job to teach us what’s in the bible on Sunday mornings?

So why do I need to even read or study the bible outside of Sunday morning service?

I’m glad you asked!

3 Reasons Why You Should Study Your Bible

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1. God Commands Us Too

Yes, it is the pastor’s job to share the word of God with the congregation, but it is also the job of the congregation to study the word of God on their own.

In Deuteronomy 11:18-20, ”You shall, therefore, lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…”

Note that it doesn’t say the Pastor is to do these things it specifically says, ”you”.

So as you can see we are commanded by God to study his word so that it becomes a part of our hearts and gets ingrained in our souls. That way we can share it with all that we come into contact with.

2. The Word Shows Us How We Should Live

When I was younger our pastors often referred to the Bible as our Basic, Instruction, Before, Leaving, Earth (BIBLE).

The bible has everything that a Christian need to live a life holy and acceptable to God.

2 Timothy 2:16-17 says” All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

The Bible contains information on how we are to handle our finances, our relationships with our children, spouses, and neighbors, what to do when others treat us poorly, etc.

Whatever you need can be found in the word of God.

3. It Will Change Your Life

In my opinion, this is the most important part of why you should study your bible. If you are struggling with sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, reading and studying the word of God will slowly begin to erode all of that stuff away.

Romans 12:2 says,” Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The key part of this verse is the renewing of your mind. If we want to see real change in our lives we have to change the way we do things.

You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.

When you constantly study the word of God and are in a relationship with Christ it will slowly (and sometimes quickly) change the way you think about and see the world around you.

How can the word of God change you? Simply put the Word of God is not just a book that you read.

It’s not just words on a page that don’t apply to your life and everyday situation.

Hebrew 4:12 states,” For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Another interesting finding from the study done by the American Bible Society (March 2018) showed that people who studied their bible regularly:

  • Showed more loving behavior towards others,
  • Were more generous with their time, energy or financial resources,
  • And were more willing to engage in their faith

Reading the Word of God regularly is an important part of our Christian walk with God.

Now that we know why it’s important for us to read and study our bible let’s look at a few helpful acronyms that will help you study.

5 Easy Acronyms That Will Help You Effectively Study The Bible

In general studying, the Bible falls into 3 main categories: topical (word) study, chapter study, and character study.

Topical studies focus on a specific topic or concepts such as love, marriage, parenting, tithing, etc. When doing topical studies it is important for you to study these terms in context.

During a chapter study, you pick a specific chapter in the bible to study. Some popular chapters are Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13, Daniel 3, and Hebrews 11. These chapters can be studied in one setting, but are best studied in small sections or multiple study sessions.

Character studies are some of my favorite studies because I get to learn more about some of my favorite Bible characters like Samson, David, Paul, Esther, Ruth and of course Jesus.

Bible Journaling is an effective way to study the bible no matter what type of study you are doing. You don’t need anything fancy to use as your bible journal.

A simple spiral or composition notebook will work just fine.

Even though all of these methods are slightly different they all have the same basic backbone: choosing a scripture, chapter, topic etc, writing down your observations and some form of personal interpretation.

All 5 of these acronyms have already been covered in great detail by other bloggers.

Instead of rehashing what’s already been done I have provided a brief overview of each acronym and provided the link to the original blog post if you would like more information.

Without further ado here are the 5 easy acronyms that you can use to study the Bible.

1.SOAP

SOAP stands for S-scripture, O-observe, A-application, P- prayer.

I believe the SOAP method is currently the most popular acronym. Whenever I am on pinterest I always see pins for this study method.

2.WORD

WORD stands for W-write, O-observation, R-relevant, D-declare.

The WORD method does not simply end with prayer, but as part of the prayer you declare the applicable parts of the scripture over your life, which I thought was pretty neat.

3.APPLE

APPLE stands for A-attributes of God, P-promises of God, P-principles for life, L- lesson learned, E- example to follow.

The APPLE method is excellent for studying the Psalms. Unlike, the other methods this one has you look for the attributes of God and his promises.

This kind of study can be useful for learning scriptures on healing, finances, God’s provision, or doing a study on the Character of God.

4.REST

REST stands for R-read, E-engage, S-savor, T-Take charge.

The REST method is best for topical bible studies. For example if you wanted to learn about forgiveness, tithing, baptism, love, etc.

This one doesn’t have an observation section, but instead directs you to meditate(S-savor) on the scripture or passage that you’ve read. Once you’ve meditated you write down what you believe God is speaking to you through the scripture (T-Take Charge).

5.SALT(Y)

SALT(Y) stands for S-supplication, A-absorb, L-learn, T- Thanksgiving, Y-you.

This study method begins with prayer (S) and ends with giving God thanks(T). I like that you can add the Y, which causes you to examine how the verse applies to your life.

If you’re crunched for time this bible study would work well, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a more in depth bible study.

Final Thoughts

Taking time out of your busy day to read your Bible is an important part of any Christians day. Spending time in the word of God is essential to our growth as Christians and can radically change our lives if we let it.

While studying the Bible can seem intimidating it doesn’t have to be. Using any one of the 5 acronyms above can greatly enhance our time spent studying the bible.

Have you tried any of the acronyms above to study the bible? Maybe I’ve missed one or you know of another method. Please feel free to share it in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Crafting Corner

5 Things You Need To Do Before You Start Sewing

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Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to learn how to sew. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the thought of making my own clothes (fashion designer EJ) or maybe it was just the thought of doing something creative.

I’m not sure. Either way, I never got the chance to learn how to sew in my childhood. It was something that I always regretted.

Not to mention the fact that my husband knows how to use a sewing machine and how to sew by hand. Talk about feeling like a slacker!

Then one day, last summer, fortune smiled on me. My sister in law gave me the sewing machine that she didn’t use. Talk about being super excited!

It was an older sewing machine that she had gotten from my mother in law. (A Singer Millenium Series.)

Singer Sewing Machine

It was a bit big and bulky, but that was alright with me. I cleared off some space in the kids’ playroom, plugged up my machine and dived right into my sewing journey.

Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes those first few weeks. But you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

1.Read the Manual

Bobbin, presser foot, seam guide, handle wheel, oh my?! When I got my sewing machine I had no idea what any of those knobs and dials on my machine were for or what they were called.

And since it was a hand me down a manual did not come with it. Luckily, we live in the digital age and I was able to find a copy of the original manual online.

If you’ve read my crochet posts you know that I don’t like following directions, but I highly recommend reading your manual.

The manual that comes with your sewing machine is a very important resource don’t throw it away.

Not only does it tell you how to properly use your machine. You will find diagrams showing you all the different parts of the machine and their functions.

It will also give you information on how to use the different stitches, what tension should be used for certain stitches, what kind of needle you should use for different kinds of fabric (Yes, there are different kinds of sewing needles!)

It also has a section that details common issues that you may have with your machine and how to fix them.

2. Start with the Basic Sewing Supplies

When I started sewing I didn’t have everything I needed. Which meant I had to make several trips to the store to pick up various supplies.

So before you get all sew happy like I did, you’re going to need some basic sewing supplies. Besides your sewing machine you are going to need the following:

Thread

white and blue thread

I started with an all-purpose thread from Walmart. It’s tempting to buy multiple colors, but I would recommend only buying two colors of thread to start with.

Preferably two contrasting colors. Using two contrasting colors makes it easier to learn how to thread your bobbin. It can also help you identify any issues you might have with your stitches.

Trust me your stash of thread will grow as you begin to sew more items.

Scissors

Fiskars Scissors

Invest in a good pair of scissors. I was using my kid’s scissors from school for a little while. Then my husband brought me a pair of Fiskars scissors (angels singing)…let’s just say I will never use those kiddie scissors to cut fabric ever again!

It’s important that people in the house know that these scissors are off limits and are only to be used for cutting fabric. Using them on other types of material can dull the blades.

Seam Ripper

seam ripper

If you’re like me you will make a lot of mistakes when you first start sewing. (You won’t believe how difficult it is for me to sew a straight line, but more on that later.)

The seam ripper helps to remove the stitches you’ve created without destroying your fabric. Some machines will come with a small seam ripper, but I had to buy a bigger one.

Pins

Sewing Pins

Pins are important for holding your patterns pieces in place or when you need to cut fabric. Like thread, there are several different types of pins to choose from and they all serve their own purposes.

Ruler

tailors ruler

Sewing requires you to take a lot of measurements. You will need a decent straight edge ruler to make sure your cuts are perfect and/or you can use a soft flexible tailors ruler like the one pictured.

If your not making clothing then you probably won’t need the soft ruler. However, when it comes to sewing you will always want to measure twice and cut once.

Tailors Chalk/Fabric Pencils

tailors chalk

Tailor’s chalk is often used to trace out patterns onto your fabric. The chalk will wash off easily and not leave stains on your fabric.

Fabric pencils serve the same function and can be sharpened when the tip becomes dull.

Fabric

Brightly Colored Fabric

As a newbie, it can be tempting to buy all those cute fabrics that we see in the store. Your best bet is to hold off on the cute stuff.

Instead, buy some cheap cotton fabric for you to practice on. Goodwill is a great place to buy cheap bed sheets that you can cut up and practice sewing on.

Once you’re confident in using your machine, then you can buy the cute stuff.

Iron (Optional)

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I really dislike ironing. So imagine my surprise when I learned that there was a great deal of pressing involved in sewing. I’m sure it’s my least favorite part of sewing.

Most of us already have an iron in the house. So buying one isn’t necessary, but I find it tedious to have to go from one part of the house to press my fabric in the laundry room and then take it back to my craft room to continue sewing. If you don’t want to travel around the house a mini electric iron will save you some time.

Having a dedicated iron would save me some travel time.

3.Start Simple

Superman Themed Bow-tie

I can be a bit gung- ho at times. Especially, when it comes to things that help me express my creative side. Or starting a new hobby.

I have a tendency to rush through the basics so that I can hurry up and create that masterpiece I see in my head.

I recommend that you don’t do that. Take the time to learn the basics of sewing before you move on to more challenging endeavors.

Amber from Crazy Little Projects has a created an awesome free sewing class for newbies like you and me.

The class also has a dictionary that defines common sewing terms and projects that you can complete after each lesson to hone your skills.

I haven’t mentioned much about patterns, but if you’re going to buy a clothing pattern I would suggest starting with the easiest pattern available and then work your way up to the harder things, like dresses.

4.Youtube Is Your Friend

I’m a hands-on learner and usually, I’m pretty good at following written tutorials, but sometimes I just need to watch a video to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.

If you’re a visual learner youtube will be your best friend when it comes to learning how to sew or troubleshooting issues with your machine.

I couldn’t figure out how to thread the bobbin in my sewing machine for the longest time. After almost giving up I remembered the wonderful world of youtube.

It was there that I found a video on how to thread the bobbin for my machine and was finally able to get on my way to sewing like a real seamstress. ( I’m not that good yet, but I’m working on it.)

I also had an issue with learning how to read patterns and how to buy fabric. I found a youtube video for that too.

There are also videos on how to sew different types of garments and accessories. I found a video on how to sew women’s underwear (gasp)! I don’t think I’ll be trying that one, but you never know.

Right now I’ve got my eye on a youtube tutorial that shows you how to turn a men’s dress shirt into a toddler dress. But first I need to try to make something a little simpler…like kids pajama pants or something.

5. Have Fun

My final piece of advice is to have fun and enjoy the creative process! Don’t get caught up in the fact that you still can’t sew a straight line to save your life! (They tell me there is a hack to help you with that.)

Like any new task you take on, it will be full of mistakes and frustrations. Seriously, do you know how many tries it took me to make that Superman bow tie?!

But I finally figured it out and it came out better than I could have imagined.

I hope this little bit of advice will help you get started on your own sewing adventure. If I forgot something please let me know in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

6 Pieces of Advice for Stay At Home Moms

If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was 7 it definitely wouldn’t have been a stay at home mom. (I would have said a veterinarian, which I didn’t become either.)

However, I also wouldn’t have said that I wanted to be a high school teacher( which I did for 10 years).

Both of my parent’s worked when I was growing up. So when I decided to become a SAHM my parents weren’t exactly on board with the idea.

I think my mother was a little more accepting of the idea than my father was. Even now he frequently asks me what I’m going to do and if I’ve considered doing Uber or Amazon Flex.

I’m not really sure why he’s not totally on board. My grandmother was a SAHM so maybe it’s more of a personal reason for him.

My husband was completely on board with the idea and that was really all that mattered to me.

At the time I didn’t really know any other SAHMs. The few I did know I wasn’t really close with so contacting them for advice was pretty much out of the question. After about four months of trial and error, I have learned many things.

However, I have 6 important pieces of advice that I think all SAHM’s whether they are newbies or pros should know.

1. Schedules Are Your Friend

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One of the biggest things that helped me be more productive while I’m at home is developing a schedule or routine that I follow every day.

At first, I didn’t have a schedule because I thought I could manage my time well without it. (FYI: I put the PRO in Procrastinator.)

Instead, my husband would come home daily to a very frustrated wife. It seemed like I never had enough time to do anything or get anything done in the house during the day. Why? Because I wasn’t using my time wisely.

Thus a schedule was born! It took me a few tries to get it right, but once I did I became less frustrated and managed to get more thing accomplished during the day.

I still haven’t figured out how to work blogging into that schedule yet, but it’s a work in progress.

2. It’s Ok If Everything Doesn’t Get Done

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Even though I do my best to stick to the schedule I have created sometimes things just don’t work out the way I planned. Life happens.

The baby is fussy, my sister in law needs a ride to the doctor, or I lose the keys and waste 20 minutes looking for them (this happens a lot, I should probably find a solution to that).

And that pile of laundry I wanted to get folded goes undone, the elaborate dinner that I wanted to make doesn’t get cooked, that blog post I wanted to work on doesn’t get started.

It’s so frustrating when your well laid out plans don’t work out. I would look at my to-do list and just shake my head in frustration and defeat.

My husband had to remind me that it was ok if I didn’t get everything done and to remember to just take a deep breath.

Eventually, the laundry will get folded and that elaborate dinner I planned will get made, just not today.

And I had to accept the fact that it was okay to not get everything done. Just breathe and try again tomorrow.

3. Keep In Contact With Your Old Coworkers/Friends

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I am an introvert by nature so staying in contact with coworkers and friends can be a bit of challenge. I have managed to stay in contact with one of my former coworkers, which has been a blessing.

It gives me another adult to talk to besides my husband and it keeps me in the loop about what’s happening and changing in the educational field.

That way whenever I decided to go back, if I ever go back, I’ll at least have some idea of what I’ll be getting myself into.

They are also a good source of adult conversation. No need to talk about Doc McStuffins and Elmo with them.

4. Make SAH Friends

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Don’t become a shut-in with just you and your child(ren) existing in your own tiny bubble. Your old friends aren’t gonna want to hear about how cute Charlie was when he sat on the potty this morning.

It’s important to get out and make some mom friends. Many cities have free playgroups that parents can take their kids too. This is an excellent place to meet other SAHMs or SAHDs.

Then you can have that one friend that totally gets it when you talk about how your toddler shoved a bead up his nose and you were at the emergency room all night.

They are also a great source of parenting advice and provide support for those tough days when you just don’t or can’t muster up the strength to be Super Mom.

5. Make Time For Yourself

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As women, we tend to sacrifice our own health and well being for the sake of others. Being SAHM is no different.

You get so caught up in taking care of the kids, keeping the house clean, arranging playdates, etc. That you forget to take time for yourself.

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate like going on a girls night out. Maybe splurging on a mani/pedi is your thing.  Personally, a few hours of quiet time works for me.

I like to crochet or just go to the local Barnes and Noble and read through a few books. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something you enjoy.

6. Make Time For Your Spouse

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For most of us, the reason we stayed home was to take care of the kids. So our focus tends to be on making sure the kids have what they need and that they are taken care of. We tend not to focus on our spouses and they get pushed to the back burner.

I have been guilty of this issue and I have to keep reminding myself that my husband works 10 hr days and overtime on the weekends to keep a roof over our heads.

The least I can do is put the kids to bed early and just make some time for us to be together without the kids.

Try to call a sitter and schedule a date night once a month. Even simple things like making his lunch for work are simple ways to show your spouse that you care.

Being a stay at home parent is a hard job and as your children get older the challenges of parenting change with it.

Hopefully, these 6 tips will help make your life a little easier

Did any tip stick out to you as the most important? Or maybe you have another one to add to the list?

Share it with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you think.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro