When I gave birth to my son, Nakoa, who is now ten months old, I became a stay-at-home mom and gave up my job in a kids’ after school program. I’m 30, I love Nakoa, but it was hard to adjust and get into a routine. I moved to America from Brazil ten years ago, and miss my family — I felt lonely. At the end of the day, I’d realize I hadn’t eaten anything, so I’d ask my husband, Austin, to pick up fast food. Nakoa wasn’t sleeping well and I felt overwhelmed. One night the baby kept crying and didn’t stop for hours. I started crying really hard and almost lost it. I said: “I can’t do this anymore.”  

My friend, Sherin — a Thrive Challenge Grand Champ winner — inspired me to get started.

She’d come to America from India. Like me, she didn’t have family in the States and I related to her. Sherin changed her life and is always helping people. Oh my gosh, she’s supported me so much.I started by writing down goals I wanted to focus on, like saving money and scheduling time to do yoga. Just writing everything down helped me get organized.

I’ve established a bedtime routine for the baby.

Before bed, I let him play for 20 minutes. I sing Brazilian songs to him and he’s asleep by 7 p.m. Then I have “Me Time.” I’ll do yoga and read. When Austin gets home from work, we’ll watch a TV show like Chuck. In the morning, Austin takes care of Nakoa so I can sleep. 

I make time to do fun, creative activities with Nakoa.

I’ll stick tape on the wall, and let him peel it off with his little fingers to improve his motor skills. He’s learning to walk and I love watching him try to balance. I talk to him in Portuguese, so he’s going to be bilingual.

Austin and I go grocery shopping together and plan meals. 

For breakfast I’ll make oatmeal with almond milk, peanut butter, banana, and strawberries, which we all love. For dinner we’ll often make Brazilian rice and beans, or chicken curry — food that reminds me of home.  I spend time with a friend from Brazil.Tatiane and I hang out; we’ll talk about motherhood and cook Brazilian food together. If she needs somebody to watch her two babies, I’ll go over to her house with my son and help out. 

We’re saving over $100 a month.

I took on a cleaning job one morning a week which helps. Any extra cash goes in a jar with Nakoa’s name on it. And every week, Austin and I sit down together and work out what bills have to be paid.  

I am focusing on gratitude; I’m thankful for Austin’s family, who live close to us. 

I am so grateful for technology, like WhatsApp, which means I can stay in touch with my family in Brazil. I am less stressed, more organized, and much happier.

— Jennifer Northrup, Walmart Customer; Hornell, NY; $5K Winner