Category: Children/Parenting

Summer Schedule for Kids and Moms Who Need Structure

For a person who craves structure, the lazy, free days of summer scare me.

I know myself, and I know that the less structured my day is, the less I get done and the worse I feel. That is why this summer I developed a summer schedule for kids to better organize our days.

This is not to say that every day has to be productive, but I feel much better if, at the end of most days, I can feel like I accomplished something. Last summer was my first summer off with my children, so I am new to this whole 2+ month off thing.

kids walking to the beach
I am not complaining that I have these months off, not at all. In fact, getting this time off was one of the main catalysts for switching jobs, even though it meant a pay cut.

If you are like me and need some structure to your summer, you have come to the right place.

I will share how I am handling summer planning to better structure our summer. This is a new plan, so we do not know how it will work out in the end. I’ll be sure to recap in August whether creating a simple, summer schedule was successful or not.

My oldest, Cassidy, is similar to me and craves structure. In fact, for the second summer in a row, she has asked that we have summer school.  If I left it up to her, we would have a set schedule that we follow every single day down to the minute. We agree to compromise because I think some flexibility and laziness is important as well.

In the spring I started a  folder titled “Summer” in our HOPE file. Anytime I saw something relevant to summer planning such as camps, classes, fun activities, summer learning or a place we might like to visit, I put the information in that folder.

In the middle of May, I had Cassidy look through the folder and pick out which places and things she would like to do this summer.  

This was the start of our summer bucket list.

Next summer Amelia, who is only three now, will be old enough to give feedback as well, but we know this year she would say the pool and the park which are both automatically on the list.

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Why and How We Store Toys Without Using Toy Boxes

One of the biggest conundrums of every parent – how do you store toys?

The landscape of your house changes drastically when you welcome children into your home and continues to change with every year they live there.

From playmats, jump-a-roos and exersaucers to Legos, Shopkins and ride along toys there is never a shortage of things to trip over, step on or clean up day after day.

No matter how hard we have tried to keep our floors clear of toys, it is inevitable that they will clutter our spaces for years to come. I know, I know, someday I will miss it.  I don’t doubt the truth in that sentiment, but it doesn’t help to make it less annoying in the moment.

How in the world do little people make such a big, dangerous mess in mere minutes left alone?

 We have many different ways to store toys in our house, but we do not have any traditional toy boxes. This is not to say we didn’t ever have them, because we did. In fact, at one time we had traditional toy boxes in two rooms of our house. A year or two ago we eliminated these toy boxes from our house for one big reason – they weren’t practical.

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13 Fun and Free Activities To Do with Kids When You’re Stuck Inside

It’s cold, it’s dreary, and the days are short. You may be wondering if winter will ever end. Some people like winter; I’m not one of those people.

I don’t hate winter, but I’d be fine if winter only lasted one month. And in that month we enjoyed sunny skies, temperatures not below 30 degrees, the roads were clear for driving, but the fields and hills were covered in perfect white snow that could be used for sledding and building snowmen. It could happen, right?

Alright, so winter in the Midwest is never going to be like that, and with kids underfoot we need to find something to do to entertain them for the long, dreary, and cold days.

Don’t break the bank and make memories to last a lifetime the next time you are stuck inside. Your kids may even be begging to stay inside and play.

13 Fun, Free Indoor Winter Activities for Kids.

Bake or Cook

Have your kids join you in making a special treat or a fancy dinner for the whole family to enjoy. Look through recipe books or search Pinterest together to find something everyone is interested in eating.

Build a tent city

You can do this even if you don’t have kids’ pop-up tents or tunnels. Grab some sheets and chairs and get to work putting them up. It works best if you pick the largest room in the house and create multiple tents. Clothespins or clips of any kind work great for holding the sheets up. If you don’t have those, use heavy books  The bigger the sheet, the better. My kids created an entire room of tents, and the fun lasted a whole week. It only ended because I wanted my living room back.  You’ll be the coolest parent ever if you let them sleep in the tent too! (more…)

Teach kids to save money, even if you’re still learning

Kids learn more from what we do than what we say. This is no different when it comes to money management. Modeling good money saving in your own life is the easiest way to teach kids to save money.

It seems that in our world of instant gratification, no one has to wait for anything. Patience is something that adults and children alike don’t get much practice with. You don’t have to wait for commercials on television. You can buy something and have it delivered in a day thanks to Amazon Prime. We are shocked when someone doesn’t respond immediately to our communication since email showed up on phones and text messaging became a thing.

Why in this world of instant gratification would we be shocked that kids are having a hard time learning to save money?

I want my kids to understand money management and I want them to know how to save money.

teach kids to save

There are definitely money decisions I wish I had made differently years ago, but there are far more things that I am thankful I did know about and did wisely.

Even if you are struggling with money management yourself, you can still help your kids learn to save money and overall money management skills.

In fact, watching you learn how to save and pay down debt can be a great lesson for your kids. Our debt snowball started after we had kids and our oldest, Cassidy understands our goal on a basic level. She knows that sometimes we say no to things because we are working on paying down debt. She also knows that nearly 10 years after her dad finished law school we are paying off the money it cost for him to go.

This is and will forever be a lesson in how student loans and student loan interest can impact your life for years to come. His student loan is older than she is!

cassidy counts her money

How to teach kids to save money:

Be open and honest.

Share some of your financial goals – age appropriate. I do not advocate for sharing all of your financial information with your children. This is an important part of explaining money to a child. It is okay to tell your kids they can’t have something at the store, because you don’t have extra money for it. However, you don’t want to share so much that your kids are worried that you don’t have enough money to live. In our family we talk openly about our debt snowball and how we are paying off a student loan. If you can’t afford a family vacation now, but it is a financial goal- share that information.

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Five Great Game Recommendations for Kids

My family loves to play games: party games, board games, strategy games, and cards games. We love them all. Who better to give you game recommendations for kids than a family of gamers.

Yes, we are a gamer family.

At our house, we have family game night often. It’s not a set day of the week, but it happens often depending on Brian’s work schedule. Brian and I have both always loved games, and many of our “dates” in college revolved around playing board and card games.

Game recommendations for kids

It was natural that games would continue to be important in our family and whether our daughters like it or not they’ve become gamers too. So far, Cassidy has not resisted our love of game playing and only time will tell with Amelia.

Our love of games, also means that we own A LOT of games.

A wall full of game recommendations for kids

In fact one year, I put a moratorium on any news games in our house for Christmas.

Guess what happened that year. . .

There was a box under the tree

Darn that Santa, he never listens to anything I say.

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