What I’ve Learned My First Semester of Nursing School

Ok, so I have successfully completed my first semester of nursing school. WooHoo!  I checked my GPA yesterday, and I managed to pull it off with a 4.0. Yay me. Granted, my nursing program is part-time, so I’m not taking as many classes as full-time students. Also granted, I am a mom of 2 with a full-time job. So again, yay me. Can I maintain that 4.0 throughout the program? Probably not!!!  And I’m ok with that, because I’ve learned some stuff during these past 4 months…

…Keep calm, and don’t stress over grades. Yes, coming from someone who freaks out over an A-, this is a big lesson for me. I strive to get the best grades I can, but nursing school has taught me that I cannot flip out if I don’t get straight A’s. There will be times when my knowledge is challenged and I will pass, and there will be times when I fail. Instead of bawling over failure, use that failure to your advantage!  Once you fail something, and you figure out what you did wrong, you’ll NEVER forget it again. Let each failure be a lesson. Pick yourself up, learn from the mistake, and move on.

move-on

Nursing school, raising kids, and working full-time is tough, but I am tougher. Oh yes, that’s something you will find out once you start nursing school – you are a hell of a lot tougher than you knew you were. You have to be! Only a tough, totally badass chick can handle nursing school + kids + work + life in general. You, my dear, are a rockstar.  A badass rockstar.

rock-star

Organization is the key to success. Have you ever had so much work to do that you don’t even know where to start? This happens very easily if you don’t get yourself organized. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay organized. Get yourself a good planner and keep track of all assignments and tests. I take it a step further – I keep track of everything. I made my own calendar, and I use it to track all my school priorities, all my kids’ activities, my work schedule, my husband’s schedule, etc. It is a total lifesaver. It’s literally my life-at-a-glance, at my fingertips.

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Prioritize!!!!  Yes, this is another big one. Things can get really overwhelming, really fast. You have to figure out what is urgent and what can wait. When I first started nursing school I felt really guilty if my house got messy or if I got behind on laundry. But then it dawned on me that all that crap can either wait, or my husband can step up and help out.  Once I stopped stressing over it and focused on my homework, he did step up and start helping out, which was really nice.

prioritize

Don’t fall behind.  Look, there are times when you will be so damn tired that you can’t even think straight, and there will be times when you feel burnt out. Know the difference. If you’re tired, go to bed. Get up the next day and try again. If you’re burnt out, take a break, but don’t get behind. One of the worst things you can do is fall behind – you will pay hell when it comes time to catch back up. I seriously cannot stress this enough!

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Breaks are a brain-saver. For real – when you study for too long, your brain needs breaks!  You’ll retain information much better if you give your brain a rest every now and then. I never do anything for more than an hour at a time. Work for an hour, go do some laundry. Work for another hour, go stretch and eat a snack. You get the idea.

take a break for lunch coffee or take a a vacation or leisure day off to rest

Sleep is vital. Sleep? What the heck is sleep?  One of my advisors told us at the beginning of the program that we need sleep, and you know what? She was soooooo correct! I discovered that after working all day, dealing with my bambinos, cooking dinner, blah blah blah, I do much better if I just go to bed around 9ish and wake up super early in the morning to study. I can get up around 3 or 4 in the morning and have 2-3 hours of quiet time before it’s time for the kiddos to get up and going. That’s what works for me – figure out what works for you and roll with it.

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I know how to study now. Yep, that’s right, I’ve got this study thing DOWN!  I am amazed at the number of students that I hear say, “I don’t know how to study,” or “You make really good grades, can I study with you?” No! The reason I make good grades is because I have found the best way for me to study. Some people do well in study groups (I do not), some people use flashcards, some use mnemonics (my favorite), some people have to read every single inch of the book, some people study the powerpoints – there are so many ways to get it done. If you aren’t sure what your best learning style is, try a few different things until you figure it out.

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I am not afraid to be wrong. That’s why I’m a nursing student, not an actual nurse. I don’t know it all, so of course I’m going to screw up. I have to be ok with that and not let it make me feel defeated. I learn from my mistakes, but more importantly, I laugh at my mistakes. As long as I didn’t hurt anyone or let anyone down, I will be the first person to crack a joke about my mistake (s). I like to turn them around and use them as a learning tool for my cohorts: “Ha, ha, ha! *snort* Don’t be goofy like me and pick up the trashcan with your hands!” Yeah, that was one of my mistakes I made during a wound-cleaning demo. I forgot to set the trashcan by the bed, so then when I realized I needed it, I reached down and grabbed it with my gloved hand. Afterwards the instructor showed me how to kick it with my foot so that I don’t contaminate my gloves. Lesson learned!!

lesson

I’m one semester down and six to go, so I’m sure there will be tons more that I can add to this list. I’m amazed at the amount of information I’ve learned in one semester – it’s mind-blowing, really.  Let me hear from other nursing students – what things have you learned so far??

So You’ve Been Accepted Into Nursing School…Now What?!?

So You’ve Been Accepted Into Nursing School…

Congratulations! Now what? Ok, I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but getting accepted into a nursing program is only the tip of the iceberg. You’ve taken the required courses, you’ve made the grades, & you think you’re all set to start. But wait!!  Did you know there are a MILLION things that you have to accomplish before the program even starts??  YES! Ok, maybe not a million things, but there are a bunch of things to get done, and the sooner you get them completed, the better off you’ll be. As they say in Boy Scouts, always be prepared.  I sat down and compiled a list of all the things I had to get done from the time I was accepted into the program, until the program actually started. Some of these may not apply to you, but I’m willing to bet a bunch of them will. I present to you, the list:

  1. Background check: the school will provide all the information for this, but you will be responsible for a background check fee. There will be paperwork that you need to sign and submit as well. My background fee was $105, which included the background check, urine test, and account membership for Verified Credentials, which is where we upload all of our documents.
  2. Urinalysis: once I created an account with Verified Credentials, I was able to submit a request for a urinalysis. They emailed me a paper that I had to take with me, along with a list of locations near me. For those of you that have kids, I have to tell you this!  So my husband was working and I was in a hurry to get my urine test and background check completed just because I’m anal like that. Soooo, I took my kids with me.  I had to drive over an hour to an approved testing site, but that’s only because I live in rural-middle-of-nowhere-land.  Anyway, I got there, tell my babies to sit down and be quiet (they are 6 and 10) in the waiting room, and proceed to the back to grab my cup and make my “deposit”. Suddenly the nurses say, “Oh, we can’t test you today because you have your kids with you and someone over the age of 18 MUST be available to sit with them in the waiting room, and they are NOT allowed to go into the restroom with you.” What the what??? Yeah, long story short it was very frustrating and I’m forewarning other parents so no one makes the same mistake I did.
  3. Register with FCSR: I had to register with FCSR, which stands for Family Care Safety Registry. There was a $13 fee for this.
  4. Health Insurance Proof: in my program we are required to have health insurance, so I had to copy the front and back of my insurance card and upload it to Verified Credentials.
  5. CPR Certification: my program requires the American Heart Association BLS for the Health Care Provider certification. I did this at my school, it took about 4 hours, and it cost me $50.
  6. Physical: my school provided me with a form that I had to take to my doctor for him to sign off on, stating that I was healthy and able to perform all physical duties. The cost of this was just the copay I had to pay for the office visit.
  7. Health History Form: this is a form provided by my school that I personally filled out, that just goes over any health issues I may have and a brief family history. Just basic stuff, like do you smoke, drink, history of illness, major surgeries, etc.
  8. Two-Step PPD: this is required before you begin nursing school, and it will be required every year while you are in school and while you are working in a healthcare setting. It’s a test to check for tuberculosis. It’s a simple skin test, but there are 4 parts to it.  The first part is an injection under the skin on your forearm; 2-3 days later you go back and have it checked for a positive or negative reaction. Then 1-3 weeks later you go back for a second injection, then come back 2-3 days later and have it checked. It’s easy, you just have to go to your doctor, the health department, or wherever four different times.  At my school they offered it to us free of charge, which was really nice.  I just went to the school nurse and she did it for me – fast and painless.
  9. Immunization Record: this one is a big deal, because these immunizations can take time and if you wait too long, you may miss your deadline. You have to either have positive titers or proof of new shots for the following:

Two MMR’s – measles, mumps, and rubella. If you have titers drawn and come up not immune to any of these (rubeola included) you will need to get two 7+ MMR shots.  These have to be spaced out 3-4 weeks apart from each other. My doctor’s office didn’t have them, and the health department wouldn’t give them to me since I had health insurance, so I went to the Healthcare Clinic at Walgreen’s.  I’m not sure what the cost is with insurance because I haven’t received my bill yet, but without insurance I believe it was $99 per shot.

Polio – you have to either show a positive titer, or receive the polio series vaccinations. Luckily I had a positive titer.

T-dap – you have to either show a positive titer, or receive the T-dap shot. I had to get one and my doctor’s office was able to do this for me and bill it to my insurance company. The T-dap vaccine is good for 10 years. (T-dap stands for Tetanus, Diptheria, & Acellular Pertussis.)

Varicella (aka, chickenpox) – you have to either have a positive titer, or two immunizations for this one. I had chicken pox as a kid, so I just had a titer drawn and it was positive.  If you have to get the varicella shots, be careful with your timing because they can throw off your PDD results.  This is why the shots can take a while, because you have to wait between shots and some shots interfere with others.  Give yourself plenty of time to work on your immunizations!!

Hep B – this is the longest series of shots. Its 3 different shots, spaced out over a period of about 6 months. Since we only have a few months between finding out we made the cut into the nursing program, and the start of the program, we had to sign a form saying we were working on this one and will upload the shot records as soon as they are complete.

  1. Flu Shot – all nursing students have to show proof of the yearly flu shot.
  2. Scrubs – scrubs are required for all of our clinicals and anytime we are in the lab at school. My program requires a specific color and the tops have to have our school logo on them. They cost about $40-$50 per set.  I started off with one set, and when I get a little more $$ I’ll buy a second set.  There’s no need to run out and buy 3 or 4 sets right off the bat, unless you just really like to blow money.
  3. Shoes – we are required to wear all white shoes during labs and clinicals. Our teachers recommend that we buy a pair that are dedicated solely to nursing; not ones that we wear every day. Their reasoning for this is two-fold: you don’t want to wear them out too fast, and you don’t want to track hospital funk all over your house.  You can get whatever you want as far as shoes go, as long as they’re all white.  Some people bought $13 sneakers from Wal-Mart, while others splurged and bought the really expensive Danskos.  I bought these based on the recommendation of The Nerdy Nurse.  Check her out, she’s pretty awesome!

    timberland-pro

    These are super comfy!

  4. Labcoat – for us this is not a requirement, just a suggestion. Our school bookstore sells them for about $30, but ours have to have the school logo embroidered on them. These are nice to have when we go to the hospital to get our patient information and we don’t have time to change from work clothes to scrubs. We can wear business casual clothes as long as we have a labcoat and our ID badge.
  5. Stethoscope – this is a pretty important supply, and they can range in price from pretty cheap to crazy expensive. I bought a Littman Classic III, and I really love it. I had mine engraved with my name so no one would steal it too, ha ha ha! There are many places you can get stethoscopes – just check them out on Google or Amazon.  I bought mine from the Student Medical Shop.  Of course, the Nerdy Nurse also blogs about stethoscopes – check it out here.
  6. Watch – you will need a watch with a second hand. These are like the shoes – your choice. You can get a cheap $5 one or splurge for a really nice one, whatever you want. I chose this one.
  7. Scissors – you will need scissors. Our school bookstore sells them, or you can get them from the Student Medical Shop or Amazon. They cost about $5.
  8. Penlight – yep, you’ll need one of these, too. I bought mine from my school bookstore, but again you can find them at the Student Medical Shop or Amazon. These cost about $5 for an average one, but of course there are others that can cost more.  I like the ones with the pupil gauge printed on them.
  9. Bag – you’ll need a bag or backpack to carry all your stuff. My school provides us with a duffle bag, which is nice, but if you want to get creative there are SO many cute bags out there. Here’s a few that I found that I liked:

    I Will Stab You humorous bag, Amazon, $21.99  i-will-stab-you

     

    Pink Zebra Nurse tote bag, Amazon, $8.99  pink-zebra

    ADC Nylon Medical Bag, Amazon, $28.78  nylon-bag

    Deluxe Nylon Bag, Amazon, $40 (On SALE $29.92)  deluxe-nylon

    Organizing Utility Tote, Thirty-One, $35

  10. Calendar/Planner – the best way to survive nursing school is to stay organized and to prioritize. You’ll definitely want a planner/calendar. I had a lot of trouble finding one that I liked, so I made my own.

    There may be other things that your school requires, so make sure to get all your ducks in a row before classes start.  Stay organized with this stuff – I actually have a binder that I keep all of these documents in.  It says Nursing Requirements “Do it with passion or not at all.”

nursing-binder-bright

  1. Clipboard – not a requirement, but will definitely be useful during clinicals. I found this one from NRSNG. It’s a little pricey but REALLY cool!! *Side Note: check with your school regarding the use of clipboards in clinicals. Some hospitals do not allow you to carry clipboards from room to room for infection control measures.

Usually there are deadlines for when all the requirements are due.  I had some stuff due by April 30th, but the majority was due by June 30th, and the program started in August.  Just pay close attention to deadlines and details, and make sure you have some extra money set aside because the costs do add up and you don’t want to be caught off guard.  I spent almost $400 between the fees I had to pay and the supplies I had to buy, just to get started.  Keep that in mind, and GOOD LUCK!!

What Supplies Will I Need For Nursing School?

Have you recently been accepted into nursing school?  If so, CONGRATULATIONS! That’s a big deal, so you should be very proud of yourself!  You may be feeling anxious and unsure of what to expect, so I have compiled a list of supplies that you can go ahead and start gathering right away.

Binders: you will need a lot of these. I use one binder per class, and I keep all of my old binders so that I can use them for references later. I prefer the 1 ½” or 2” binders, but I have used larger ones. The larger ones are more expensive, so I would start out with the smaller ones to get you started.

Sheet protectors: so your tears will roll off your notes.  Just kidding!!  I use these for my syllabus and other miscellaneous papers.  I don’t usually put my actual notes in them, but you can if you want to.

Dividers: these just help you to stay organized.

Pens: you will go through these things pretty fast, so make sure you have a good stock of them. You may also notice that they seem to “disappear” during clinicals. Yes, nurses steal pens.  We don’t mean to, it just happens!

Highlighters: these are absolutely necessary for note taking! Make sure to have plenty of these bad boys, in a variety of colors.

Sticky notes: you may or may not use these, but I use them all the time. I use them to divide off the pages of my books that I have to read, to remind myself to do something important, and I fold them in half and use them to pick food out of my teeth before a demo or clinical (true story).

Index cards: if you make flashcards to help you study, then these are a must. I like to punch holes in them and put them on a large ring so they stay together.

3-hole Punch: With all the papers you’ll be printing out, you’ll need a way to insert them into your binders. Of course you can use sheet protectors, but I think you’ll find that ain’t nobody got time for all that.

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Backpack: you’re going to have a ton of books, papers, binders, and supplies, so make sure you have a really good backpack that won’t break. Some people use the rolling kind, which work great, just check with your school before buying one.  Many programs do not allow them, and I’m not sure why, but whatever.  I like bags with lots of pockets to store my pens, highlighters, bandage scissors, stethoscope, etc.

Stethoscope: most nursing programs will require that you have your own stethoscope. These can get really pricey, so choose carefully, and always check with your school to see if they have any specifics on the type you need. Amazon has a really great selection, with reviews.  I chose the Littman Classic III, and I bought it here for $78.00, plus tax and shipping.

Scrubs: your school will probably have specifics for these, such as a certain color or they may be embroidered with “Student Nurse” or your school logo. Double check with your school first. I started out with only one pair since we were doing clinicals every other Saturday, but if you’re going to be doing clinicals right away and frequently, you may want a couple of pairs to get you started.

Shoes: a lot of nursing schools want you to wear all white shoes. You can get some super cheap white sneakers from Walmart, or you can opt for the ones made specifically for nursing. These vary in price, so shop around before you buy. My school requires closed toe and with a covered heel, so the nursing clogs were not acceptable.  I chose these Timberland PROS from Amazon.  Pricey, but comfy and I really like them. Also, my school specified that they should not be cloth – that way when they get splattered with blood, poop, urine, or whatever I can wipe them off easily.

Watch: choose whatever floats your boat, but make sure it’s not digital, it has a sweeping second hand, and it’s not cloth or leather. It needs to be able to be cleaned easily, and I would strongly recommend it being water proof. I chose this one from Amazon, $18.

Penlight: these are pretty cheap – I chose one that has the pupil gauge on them – check it out here.

Scissors: also pretty cheap – these are the ones I bought for $5.

Printer: when you start the nursing program, there will be a lot of stuff that you will need to print off. If you have a job that allows you to print there, then utilize that as much as possible.  If not, go ahead and get yourself a printer and stock up on paper and ink. The printer I use is a printer, copier and a scanner, and I have utilized all of those functions since I started nursing. There were several documents that I had to sign, scan, and upload before the program even started, so I was very grateful that I already had my printer.  This is the one that I use – $60 from Walmart. I have used my printer so much that it’s priceless to me – I don’t know what I would do without it!

Planner: nursing school is a whirlwind of classes, clinicals, demos, tests, assignments, etc., so it’s imperative that you have a way to keep yourself organized.  There are TONS of planners out there to choose from, but I didn’t like them so I made my own.  I know a lot of other nursing students use the Erin Condren Life Planner, but that was out of my price range. Here is a cool video of how one gal uses her Erin Condren planner in case you’re interested in it: Pinterest link.

All right, those are the basic items that you’ll need to get started!  Your school may require other stuff, but each school is different so just make sure you check before your program starts.  Keep in mind that there are lots of requirements needed before the program begins, so if you need immunizations make sure to start on those ASAP as many of them need to be spaced out several weeks.  Congratulations and good luck on the most important journey of your life!

Questions? Comments? Feel free to share!

Wanna Get Fit in 20 Minutes a Day?

You can!

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Get fit in only 20 minutes a day, you say?  Yes, it’s possible! Ladies and Gentlemen, if you haven’t already discovered this, I want to introduce you all to the Ideal Shape Up 12 Week Challenge!  No, I am in no way affiliated with the challenge or the challengers, nor am I affiliated with Ideal Shape.  What I am is a happy little lady that has accepted the 12 week challenge and is greatly enjoying the daily workouts.  All right, so what’s the big deal?  Read on to find out…

The Challenges: The challenges are broken down by body section and divided into a total of 12 weeks.  You work out 6 days in a row, and rest on the 7th day. You can make any day that you choose to be your rest day, like right now Thursdays are my rest days since I have class on those nights.  You can workout anytime of the day, since the workouts are posted online for you to access whenever you want to.  The first workout is the longest (right at 20 minutes) but that’s because they go into detail explaining the whole process.  The workouts can be modified if they prove to be too difficult, or you can make them more challenging by increasing your weights.

The Equipment: You don’t need much to get started – a few weights and an exercise ball is about it. Walmart sells the exercise balls for about $15, and you can also buy weights there for a reasonable price. If you have a 5 Below store near you they also carry weights and (sometimes) exercise balls. My point is, you don’t have to go out and spend a bunch of money to do this challenge.  If you are not used to lifting weights at all, I would recommend getting a set of 3 lbs. and a set of 5 lbs. to start out with, and as you get stronger you can buy heavier weights.  That’s my recommendation for women who aren’t used to weights; if you’re a man you can more than likely use heavier weights.

Ideal Shape Supplements:  No, you do not have to buy the supplements. I’ve been doing the challenge for 4 weeks now and I haven’t purchased one supplement.  However, if you want to buy some then go right ahead!  I just don’t want people to think that I’m trying to sell anything, or that they have to buy supplements to be successful.  For your nutrition needs they also offer ideas to help you stay on track, at no cost to you.

Support: Hey, guess what? They even have a Facebook support page!  Post your progress, ask questions, or find an accountability partner!  And, of course, it’s totally free.  Check it out here.

For just a few minutes a day, minor equipment, and a lot of support, why not give it a try? Oh, and the best part – it’s totally free!!!!!

Questions? Comments?  Feel free to comment and share!

The Lazy Gal’s Quick Morning Workout

Maybe you’re really busy, or maybe really tired…..or maybe you’re just too dang lazy to bother with working out. Whatever your story is, you can follow these tips to get a quick workout in, if you so choose to.  And if you’re reading this blog, then I assume you are at least a little bit interested in getting your fit on.  While I like to blame it all on the fact that my thyroid hates me, truth is sometimes I’m just a lazy gal that doesn’t wanna workout, but even I can grit my teeth and push through these.

When it comes to a quick workout, I want it to be fast and effective, and I want it to work all my major muscle groups.  I also don’t have the time, money, or energy to go to the gym, so my workouts have to be done at home, using whatever supplies I have.

Read on, fellow lazy gals!

Push-ups: Do them on your toes or on your knees, whatever works for you. Try to push yourself, but do at least 10-12 reps.

pushup

(Image obtained here.)

Squats: Remember proper form on these so you don’t injure your knees. The leg muscles are larger and can handle more, so aim for 15-20 reps.

squats
(Image obtained here.)

Dips: I like to scoot to the edge of a chair and do these, but you can also do them on the floor. The chair makes them a bit more challenging. Aim for 8-10 reps.

dips
(Image obtained here.)

Butterfly crunches: Crunches suck, but I like these better than traditional ones. If you don’t like these, modify them to your taste. Aim for 10-15 reps.

crunches
(Image obtained here.)

Lunges: You can do them alternating or not, doesn’t really matter. Remember form so you don’t stress your knees, and aim for 15-20 reps.

lunges
(Image obtained here.)

Plank: Again, proper form. Don’t raise your butt up too high, and don’t let it dip down too low. Start off for as long as you can hold it, gradually working your way up to a full minute. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs during this to make it easier to maintain stability.

plank
(Image obtained here.)

Mountain climbers: Aim for 30-60 seconds, moving as fast as you can.

mt-climbers
(Image obtained here.)

DONE! Don’t forget to stretch those muscles out before you start your day. If you want to make this more challenging, do 3 sets of each rep before you finish with your mountain climbers.  If that’s not challenging enough, increase your reps or add weights.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to comment and share!

Life as an LEOW

Law Enforcement Officer Wife

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Any other LEOWs out there in internet-land reading this?  If so, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  For those not related to any LEOs and have ever wondered what it’s like to be the spouse of a law enforcement officer, then please read on!  Having a spouse as an LEO has its ups and downs.  It not all rainbows and unicorns, but it’s not all bad either.  Without further ado, I present to you “Life as an LEOW”:

The Questions: When you’re the spouse of an LEO, you suddenly become everyone’s go-to person and instantly have full knowledge of not only every single law on record, but all legal proceedings as well.  What, you don’t believe me?  That hurts!  Ok, ok, so there is no magic potion that instantly gives you all this insane knowledge, but my point is that people in your life ASSUME you know it all.  People are constantly asking me law enforcement questions, civil court questions, baby mama drama questions, baby daddy custody questions, if I can get them out of tickets, and my favorite one of all (insert sarcasm font): “Is your husband on duty? I need……” blah, blah, blah as they proceed to fill me in on all kinds of information that I honestly don’t give a crap about.  Just because my husband is a police officer does not mean that I know the law, it does not mean that I can get you out of a ticket, it does not mean that I am going to bug the crap out of him with your legal questions (consult a damn lawyer, PLEASE), and it does not mean that I’m going to text him and send him to your house every time he’s on duty (call the non-emergency line, that’s what it’s for!!), so please stop asking!  Ok, sorry, rant over.  I just get so tired of it that I want to stick a “Don’t Ask Me” post-it note on my forehead.  Listen, I don’t mind the occasional question, but when people use me just because my hubby is a cop I tend to get a little irritated.

The Fears: It’s a scary world out there for a law enforcement officer, but these days it’s even worse.  There is a movement going on to murder police officers, and that scares the hell out of me.  Not only is my husband a police officer, but I also have 3 brothers-in-law that are LEOs and an LEO sister-in-law.  That’s a lot of officers in my family, and I value the lives of every single one of them.  When they go on duty there is a huge chance that they may not make it back home.  I get asked a lot if I am scared, or how  I handle the stress.  First of all, that’s more of those damn questions that drive me crazy.  Second, you’re damn right I’m scared, and I handle the stress because I HAVE to.  What other choice is there??  I have two kids that I have to protect. If they see me freaking out every time their Dad goes on duty that’s only going to stress them out.  My job as their mom and my LEO’s wife is to be as strong as possible and keep this family glued together.  As an LEOW you just have to suck it up, keep your fears to yourself, and move on.

The Little Things: All righty, this brings me to the fun stuff!  I’ve made a list of the things that happen to me as an LEOW.  Ready? Here goes!

1. Guns.

Husband: “Hey Hun – can you tell I’m wearing my gun?”

Every single time we go somewhere and he’s out of uniform I get asked this.

2. We speak in 10 codes.

Me: “Dinner will be ready in 10 minutes.”
Him: “10-4.”

Me: “Hey, where you at right now?”
Him: “I’m 10-21 at ***”

3. Eating out becomes a huge challenge because he has arrested either the waiter/waitress or the cook and you’re terrified they’re going to spit in your food.

4. When you do find a restaurant to eat at you always have to sit with your back to the door because he can’t – he must keep his eyes on the door at all times.

5. You have no idea what his co-worker’s first names are because they only call each other by their last names.

My friend: “Hey, did you see Jerry at the fair last night?”
Me: “Who the hell is Jerry?”
Friend: “Ummm, that officer that works with your husband? You know, the one you invite to your house for dinner all the time?”
Me: “Oooooohhh, right, you mean Brooks. Gotcha.”

6. You become very paranoid about new people.  Seriously – I meet someone new and I always ask the hubs if he’s had any dealings with that person. You never know about people!

7. You constantly have to defend him/her.  There are always people that have some snide or rude remark or question about him. Seriously people, it gets old after a while. You don’t like cops, fine, stay the hell away from me then.

8. You have to convince new friends that your spouse really does exist. “I swear he’s real! He sleeps during the day and works at night, that’s why you never see him. I promise he’s not a vampire.”

9. You have to explain to neighbors that he actually does work.

Nosey Neighbor: “I see that patrol car parked in that driveway every single day and it never moves! What are our taxes paying him to do?”

Me: “Protect your nosey ass while you’re sleeping peacefully in your bed at night.”

10. Hear this ALL the time: “I pay his salary.” Guess what? We pay taxes, too. Shut up.

11. Mi casa su casa: I love cooking dinner for the officers that are on duty. I haven’t gotten a chance to do it in a long time because of being so busy with school, but there were times when I would have a house full of police officers filling their tummies with a yummy dinner. My house is their house.

12. “Negative” replaces “no” in everyday conversation.

Me: “Wanna eat at Steak ‘n Shake?”
Him: “Negative.”
Me: “Why, did you arrest the cook again?”
Him: “Affirmative.”

13. You have the phonetic alphabet memorized. And you use it.

Random Customer Service Rep: “Spell your name please ma’am.”
Me: “A as in Adam. L as in Lincoln. E as in Edward. A as in Adam. H as in Henry.”

14. Sirens make your blood race.  The sound of those engines revving up, sirens blaring, lights blazing, and the WHOOSH of the wind on your face as they fly by sends an adrenaline rush through me like nothing else can. Whoo, is it hot in here?

15. You learn to juggle your schedule.  Police officers usually don’t work normal hours, so I have a calendar marked with each of his days on duty, off duty, court dates, and special training, and I schedule my activities around that.  If someone asks me if I can do something on a certain date: “Uhhhh, maybe….you gotta let me check my hubby’s schedule first though.”

16. You develop a tough stomach.  The stories!!!  Oh, the stories of dead bodies, nasty inmates, drunk sickos – you name it, I’ve heard it.  You learn to roll with it, no matter how gross.

17. Guns, and bullets, and guns, and bullets – everywhere! I’m pretty sure he’s getting ready for the apocalypse because we have enough guns and ammo to take out a small army.

18. You have a love/hate relationship with Velcro. The sound of Velcro being ripped apart at 3 in the morning is bittersweet.  Your first thought is “Son of a bitch, that woke me up,” which is immediately followed by, “Thank God he made it home safely.”

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Whelp, that about sums it up for this one.  I’m so proud of my LEO and wouldn’t change our crazy life for anything!!

Questions? Comments? Let’s hear from other LEOWs!! 

How to Start an In-Home Babysitting Business

If you had the chance to read my blog, “5 Tips for Starting a Cleaning Business,” then you already know that I have dabbled in being my own boss, which is really awesome.  Anyway, in addition to running my own cleaning business, I also ran my own babysitting business out of my home.  Like any business, there are pros and cons.  Pros include the ability to stay home, being your own boss, making your own hours, charging whatever you decide, not using gas to commute to work, and no traffic jams.  Awesome sauce!  The cons include being stuck in your house all day with no escape, your house turns into a total wreck, and you have to be REALLY careful about the kids that you choose to watch and their parents.  I’ll go more into this later.  My advice is to make a list of your pros and cons before deciding to take the leap and start a business like this.  If you do decide to push forward, congratulations!!  Here are my tips to get you started:

  1. You will need supplies. Now these supplies will vary depending on the age of kiddos that you watch. For me, I babysat kids between the ages of newborn and 3 years.  After the age of 3, most of my little babysitting bambinos moved on to an actual preschool.  The supplies I started out with were lots of wet wipes, Clorox wipes, a couple of bottles, a few sippy cups, some child-friendly silverware, a few plastic plates and bowls, a couple of high chairs, some blankets and pillows for naptime, a swing, a couple of baby bouncers, and a bunch of toys that I scored at yard sales.  I had friends that donated their kid’s old toys to me, which was really nice.  Oh, I also needed pack-n-plays.  Those can get really pricey, so I got mine from thrift stores and yard sales.  That sounds like a ton of supplies now that I look at that list, but I was seriously broke when I started my business and I was able to get all my supplies for pretty cheap. You just have to be frugal and know where to look.  In addition to thrift stores, yard sales, and friends, I also utilized my local Facebook sites that buy, sell, & trade items.  That’s a big thing in my area – I think we have about 25 different Facebook sites dedicated solely to allowing people to buy, sell, & trade pretty much whatever they want.  Just make sure you clean anything that you buy used, because you don’t want to bring nastiness into your home or spread it to your family and your bbs (babysitting) kiddos.
  2. You will need a business plan. With any business, no matter how big or how small, you need a plan before you start. How much will you charge?  What will your hours be?  Will you charge extra if a parent drops off too early or picks up too late?  When will your payments be due? Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly? Will you charge in advance? Will you offer part time rates or just stick to full time? If a parent takes a vacation, will you still charge them for that week or give them a break? If a child is sick and stays home, will you still charge for that day? Will you provide breakfast, lunch, and 2 snacks for each child, or will you require that the parent send their own food? If you provide food and a parent still chooses to send food, will you give them a discount?  Will you provide diapers and wipes or require that the parents send those items? What area of your house will be designated to bbs kids, and what areas will be off limits?  How will you handle kids with allergies or special needs?  What will be your policy regarding firing your clients or your clients dropping you? Will you get state certified or not? What will be your policy regarding sick kids? Where is a quiet place in your home that the kids can take naps without being disturbed?  What forms of discipline will you use? Will you provide teaching to the kids (like a preschool does) or are you strictly a babysitter? These are all questions that you need to think about and plan for before you get started.  Don’t wait until you have clients interviewing you, or kids in your home to plan all this stuff out, but at the same time don’t let all these things overwhelm you either.  This is a lot of information thrown at you, but if you can sit down and make a plan, you’ll be smooth sailing from here on out.
  3. You need advertisement. Much like my cleaning business, I turned to social media to find clients. Once word got out that I was offering babysitting services, people started reaching out to me.  I started getting Facebook messages, text messages, and phone calls from both people I knew and people I had never met before.  If people trust you and know that you are a good person, and if they know that your house is clean, they will want you to watch their kids and they will refer you to others.  Lots of people search for in-home daycares because they are usually much cheaper and have a lot less kids, which to them means fewer chances of their kids getting ill.  Keep in mind that when parents reach out to you, they are putting their most precious possessions in your hands.  Usually they like to talk to you on the phone to get a feel for your personality, and then they typically want to come check out your house.  They just want to make sure that they don’t get any bad vibes from you, your home, your family, or your neighborhood, and of course they want to make sure that your home is kept clean and orderly.  They also want to give their child a chance to meet you so they feel comfortable, and they want to see how you interact with the child.  Remember, this little kid has never met you before and will most likely feel very shy and nervous, and may even get really upset when mom or dad leave them.  Don’t take it personally!  They are just scared and nervous and want their mom or dad to make them feel better.

If you don’t get many clients using social media, try running an ad in your local newspaper, or put up an advertisement at your local grocery store (if they allow it).

  1. Secure your clients. Once you start getting people interested in bringing their little ones to you, go ahead and talk to them about your business, answering any questions they may have. If they decide to use you, make sure that you have them sign a contract!  This is VERY important.  I don’t care if you’ve known the person for years and y’all are good buddies – everyone needs to sign a contract.  I will give you an example of my old contract at the end of this blog.  Also, make sure you are aware of your state’s policies regarding child care.  Here in Missouri, if a childcare provider is not state certified, then they are allowed to babysit a maximum of 4 children not related to them, and only 2 of those children can be under the age of 2.  Learn your state’s laws regarding this and make sure you adhere to them, because you don’t want the state coming in and shutting you down.  Not only will your business be shut down and your clients left without a sitter, but you could be subject to fines as well.  Know your laws!

pregnancy_baby_supplies

Be very careful about who you choose to babysit for.  When you are doing your interview with the parent(s), not only are they interviewing you, but you need to be interviewing them as well.  If you get a weird vibe from them or feel iffy about watching their child, speak your mind and do not be afraid to turn clients away.  I had an absolutely crazy woman reach out to me once, wanting me to watch her kid.  At the time I didn’t know who she was, so I was chatting with her about my rates and hours.  After a while I started realizing there was something odd about her.  I reached out to my husband, who is a police officer, and he freaked out!  He said, “No, no, no! That woman is not coming to our house, NO!” Apparently he had law enforcement dealings with her and she was trying to weasel her way into her arresting officer’s home. Not cool!  There is no telling what she had planned for me and my kids once I allowed her into our home, so I am so grateful that I followed my gut instinct and checked her out first.

  1. Keep good records. I went into great detail on this topic in my post, “5 Tips for Starting a Cleaning Business,” and the same rules apply here. Keep track of all payments, keep all your receipts for anything that you purchase related to your business, and check out my cleaning business post for tax deduction ideas.  Make sure that you are keeping a record of payments, because sometimes parents get really busy and can’t remember if they already paid you or not.  The first thing they’ll do is ask you, or if they think they’ve paid and they really haven’t, you may have to gently remind them that they still owe you.

That’s it!

As promised, here is my babysitting contract that I made all parents sign (click the link to view it through Google docs).

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vZBlghvGSi-ErVaSpWZQMvgU2kUFqtZGk9dml9dbhnY/edit?usp=sharing

I always kept the original for myself, and gave a copy to the parents.

Here is another document that I gave my parents so I could learn more about their kiddo(s):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-up8YE717srZkL-DeRLuX7WbmyK0WsktBP_Uo9dqQ1A/edit?usp=sharing

Please be very cautious about who you allow in your home. Take steps to ensure your safety anytime a new client is coming to your house.  Ask friends and family if they are familiar with this person, Google them, and make sure that someone else knows exactly who is coming to your house.  I would always take a screenshot of their message and send it to my husband and my sister-in-law, with a goofy message saying something like “This person is coming to the house tomorrow at 2:00, so if they turn out to be an axe murderer and they go all Dexter on me, you know who to look for.”  Laughing, but VERY serious!  You never know about people, so just be careful!

Good luck on your new babysitting business, and please feel free to comment, share or ask questions!

How to Spot Clean Your House FAST!

So here’s the scenario: you have company coming over, but you’ve been so busy with life that you haven’t had a chance to even think about cleaning your house.  Now some people couldn’t care less about stuff like that, and that is perfectly fine!  However, if you’re neurotic like me and insist on having a presentable house, then read on to see how to get it clean super-fast!

Side Note: I used to clean houses for a living, so I found ways to clean quickly and efficiently.  Also, I was raised in the glorious South, so manners and a clean house were a must!

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First things first: Make a plan.  Figure out which rooms your guests will be in, and only focus on those rooms.  So what if your kid’s bedroom is a total disaster area?  Just close the door and your guest should never see the utter mess.  For me, my guests would only see the kitchen, living room, hallway, and guest bathroom.  My bedroom, the kids’ rooms, my bathroom, my office, and the basement will be considered “off limits” by simply closing the doors.  If I have time to clean those rooms, I will, but I certainly would not stress out over them.

Second: De-clutter.  Grab a basket, any basket (I like to use an empty laundry basket) and quickly move from room to room grabbing anything that doesn’t belong in that room, throwing it into the basket. Kids shoes, toys, books, piles of miscellaneous papers and mail, knick knacks – whatever is lying around but shouldn’t be.  Once I have it all in my basket, I take it to my bedroom and shove it in the closet.  Why? Because it’s now out of sight and I can go through it later, after my guests are gone.

Third: Move quickly and with purpose.  Start with the dirtiest room and tackle it first. It will probably take the longest, so hit it first while your energy level is still high.  Remember, you are not deep cleaning, you are just making each room presentable.

Kitchen: Tackle dirty dishes first, because that is typically the first thing people notice. Once the sink is emptied and cleaned out, wipe down your counter tops. This should be quick and fast – use Clorox wipes or whatever you have. I don’t recommend sponges just because they are breeding grounds for bacteria. If you notice some food or stickiness on the front of a cabinet, stove front, or fridge, go ahead and wipe it off, but don’t worry about scrubbing cabinets at this time. Save that for when you’re deep cleaning. Next you want to get the floors, because people definitely notice dirty floors.  To make this as quickly as possible, use a small vacuum or good broom to get up the dirt. I love my little vacuum, the Bissell 3-in-1 Stick Vacuum (Walmart, less than $20). Once that’s done, grab a spray mop and run it over the floors.  The reason I love a spray mop is because they dry SUPER fast!  This is the one I use: O-Cedar Pro Mist Microfiber Spray Mop.  This thing is little and packs a powerful punch!  I prefer it over the Swiffer mops, just because I have had really bad luck with the spray feature on the Swiffers.  The only other detail that I would pay attention to in the kitchen is the trash can.  Take a look at your trash can, and notice if it has gunk caked all over the front of it.  If it does, and you have time, try to wipe it down as best as you can.  Oh, and empty it if it’s starting to overflow.

Living Room: This room should be pretty easy since you’ve already removed the clutter.  If you can get away without dusting, by all means skip over it.  But if you notice layers of dust, then bite the bullet and tackle it.  I use the Swiffer dusters because they are fast and easy. I recommend the Swiffer brand in this case because I have tried others and they simply don’t measure up. Make sure to work from top to bottom, so if you do have to dust you would do that before you sweep or vacuum. The main points to worry about in the living room are dust, floors, clutter. Don’t worry about anything else.  A nice comfy touch you can add to the living room is a candle – they make guests feel welcome and more at home.

Hallway: Don’t stress too much over this – dust any pictures on the wall (only if needed) and run your vacuum or broom down the hallway. That’s good enough!

Bathroom: This one is a big deal, at least to me.  I’ve gone to friend’s houses before and have been shocked when I walked into their bathroom.  I understand that I’m a bit of a neat freak, but when I know that someone is coming to my house I make sure that the bathroom is clean for them.  Even if I don’t have time to do anything else, I ALWAYS clean the bathroom for a guest.  My own sister-in-law will sometimes call me and say, “Hey! Do you care if I stop by really fast?” I may only have 5 minutes before she gets there, but as soon as I tell her ‘yes’ I run to the bathroom and clean it.  This doesn’t have to take forever – it can be fast too!  Don’t worry about the shower or bathtub – just pull the curtain shut or close the door, depending on what you have.  Clean the toilet fast using Clorox wipes and a good scrub of the inside of the bowl.  Tackle the mirror with some Windex, and then clean the sink.  Use Clorox wipes to wipe off the counter, the faucet and inside the sink. Pay attention to toothpaste splatters – if you see them, wipe them off.  If the trash is full, empty it quickly. Finish up by vacuuming or sweeping because bathrooms tend to collect lots of hair on the floor.  Make sure there is toilet paper available, and the last thing I do is take a Clorox wipe and wipe around the base of the toilet (on the floor, where the toilet meets the floor) just because I have a 6 year old little man that sometimes misses. J

That’s about it!  Yep, it’s work, but once you get this routine down you can move through it really fast.  I can get all of this done in about an hour now.  Just remember, if you’re in a rush and you don’t know where to put something (like papers, toys, clutter, etc.) shove it somewhere out of sight and worry about it later.  My grandmother used to shove things in her oven when she was pressed for time. Ha!

P.S. – I am not getting paid for any of the products that I recommend. These are the products that I really use and prefer in my house cleaning experience.

How to Create a Simple Budget

It’s easier than you think!

If you’re anything like me, the thought of sitting down and balancing the checkbook, paying bills, and tinkering with the budget is about as fun as getting a yearly female exam.  Ok, ok, maybe not quite THAT bad, but pretty close! After years of blowing money and basically having zero control over my finances, I finally bit the bullet and created a budget for my family.  Once I got started I realized it wasn’t really that hard.  Here I will show you step-by-step how I created a budget for my family.  Your finances will probably be different than mine, so you may have to play around with it to figure out what works best for your situation.

Step 1: Write down all of your monthly bills.  Include every single item: utility bill (do a rough guesstimate since this one likely changes from month to month), rent or mortgage, cable, phone, internet, student loans, any insurance policies, credit card payments, car payments, any other loans you may have, Netflix – whatever you pay on a monthly basis. Next write down how much you spend a month on extra stuff, such as gas, groceries, entertainment, dry cleaning, etc.

Step 2: Figure out how much money you bring home every month.  For some people this is a very consistent amount, but for others it may vary from month to month.  In my case, my husband gets a steady paycheck twice a month for the same amount, and I get a paycheck once a month, also for the same amount.  This makes it a lot easier to plan expenses when I know exactly how much money we will make.  Don’t worry if your amount fluctuates, though.  Having a budget can be a great tool to show you how much money you are lacking.  What I mean by this is that if you know exactly how much money you need each month, then you know exactly how much money you need to earn.  Back when I was cleaning houses I knew there were some months that I needed to hustle and make some extra $$$ because I looked at my budget and realized, “Oh no, this month I need to renew the tags on our vehicles.  I need to find one more house to clean to earn the money for that.”  See what I mean? Don’t look at your budget as something scary, but rather as a tool to show you exactly what you need.

Step 3: Divide your bills up.  This is the part where you get to play around with your numbers and figure out what works best for you.  I like to dedicate each bill to a specific paycheck.  For example, my husband’s first check of the month pays the utilities, half the mortgage, life insurance policies, credit cards, half the cable, and half the cell phone bill.  I make sure to have enough left over to cover gas and groceries for the next 2 weeks.  His second paycheck covers the other half of the mortgage, our homeowners/vehicle insurance, and another loan that we have. Again, I leave enough left over to cover gas and groceries.  My paycheck covers the other half of the cable and cell phone bills, our health insurance policy, Netflix, and my student loan, as well as gas and groceries.  It took me a little while to figure out how I wanted to plan each payment, so you’ll probably have to fiddle around with yours as well.  You can make full payments, or split payments.  Sometimes I even split my utility payment, depending on our budget for the month.

You may need to do a little homework before you actually create your budget.  If you’re not sure exactly how much you spend on gas, groceries, eating out, or whatever, take a month and keep track of all that stuff.  That will give you an idea of how much you should budget for those items.

Boring as it may be, try to have fun with it and not get overwhelmed by it.  A budget is a very helpful method of taking control of your finances, and it can be a real eye opener.  After you create yours, you may realize that you have more bills than money.  If that’s the case, take a good hard look at your expenses and see if you can find anything to cut back on.  Eat out less, spend less at the grocery store, cancel the cable – whatever.  You may have noticed that I did not leave any room in my budget for entertainment, and that wasn’t an oversight.  We can’t afford it while I’m in nursing school, so we don’t even include it in our budget.  Do what works for you, good luck, and happy budgeting!

Here is a look at mine (I’ve removed my actual dollar amounts):

excel

 

Questions? Comments? Feel free to comment and share!

35 Budget-Friendly Small Gift Ideas for Kids

Ok, if you read my blog, 10 Small Gift Ideas That Are Budget-Friendly, then you know that I love to give gifts.  These aren’t limited to my adult friends and family, though – I like to give gifts to the kiddos, too.  When picking out random gifts for kids, I think F-U-N!!  It’s always exciting to get a present, especially if it’s totally random and out of the blue, but kids also want fun stuff (not a pack of underwear or socks, BLAH).  So here I have compiled a list of really cool and fun things for kids:

1. Whoopee cushions
2. Fart in a can (yep, it’s a real thing!)
3. Chapstick
4. Sunglasses
5. Mini binoculars
6. Hat
7. Flashlight
8. Small tool kit
9. Pocket knife (only if they’re old enough, of course)
10. Beef jerky
11. Yo-yo
12. Silly putty
13. Silly string
14. Nerf darts
15. Compass
16. Stick-on mustaches
17. Tiny tackle box
18. Candy
19. Fun Band-Aids
20. DVD
21. CD
22. iTunes gift card
23. Store gift card
24. Cold hard CASH
25. Lip gloss
26. Markers
27. Fingernail polish
28. Small craft supplies
29. Jewelry
30. Nail stickers
31. Make-up
32. Stickers
33. Small bag or purse
34. Glove/hat set
35. Hair accessories