Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer + a free chore chart printable

Kids are getting way too much screen time these days. With the help of this free chore chart printable and our sponsor, Walmart and SheSpeaks, we’ve create a way to trade clean time for screen time in an effort of reducing screen time and getting the kids more involved in the household chores!

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer + a free chore chart printable

My son has been out of school for two weeks now and my daughter graduates preschool tomorrow. To say that we’re in full summer mode is pretty accurate. And when you work from home, that means you have to get creative with ways to keep them busy without resorting to letting them watch tv all day. Because what’s that going to do for them when they get back to school, right?

In an effort to lessen the amount of times I hear, “I’m bored,” and to try and ramp up the kids involvement in household chores after starting them slow with cleaning their rooms, I created a system where they earn screen time (up to 2 hours a day) in exchange for doing certain tasks. And in an effort to better keep track of those hours – because it was getting quite difficult in my head – I created a free chore chart printable as well.

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer with Walmart

Once we got going I realized we needed to restock the cleaning cabinet so I headed over to www.avoidtheoops.com and grabbed a few essentials including:

  • Dawn dish soap
  • Mr. Clean magic erasers
  • Cascade detergent pods
  • Swiffer refill pads
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Febreeze spray

I was able to order everything online and, with orders of $50+, get shipping to my door free. Took the hassle out of bringing all of the kids to the store with me and trying to haul everything around! The best part is we were able to stock up on larger sizes and simply refill our smaller bottles and keep the larger sizes in the garage. This means we’re less likely to run out without a back up. And when we do run out? Walmart.com will be there to help!

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer doing the dishes

How to Trade Clean Time for Screen Time

  • Come up with a list of tasks your children can do or help with
  • Assign a minute value to each task
  • Create a max number of minutes the children can earn each day (sometimes we even throw in a bonus or two)
  • Stock up on cleaning supplies from Walmart.com
  • Let the kids start tackling things on the list
  • Put the responsibility of tracking in the kids hands – have them check off tasks as they complete them
  • Once the kids are done with accruing their minutes, let them know how much screen time they have for the next day (this is key)
  • Start the whole process over the next day

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer cleaning the living room

What I’ve found over these past few weeks after instilling this system in our home is the following: 

  • My kids really hate cleaning but REALLY love their tv and tablet time.
  • My son has been more eager to help when we offer to find new games on the tablet for him to play as well (including educational games).
  • Making sure they know that the time they earn that day is for the NEXT day is really important. And, hopefully, it’s teaching them delayed gratification.
  • Our limit of 2 hours max has still yet to be met. The kids usually earn between 30-55 minutes each day.
  • We still need to re-evaluate our weekend tv and screen time rule. That might change as we move forward.
  • Family movie time or family shows watched together is not counted against their earned time.
  • If mom or dad turns on the tv, they don’t lose their earned time.
  • The kids are really getting creative in finding ways to keep them entertained AND they’re actually playing together!
  • This means a whole lot of oops moments. Spills, messes, general disaster areas in various rooms of the house. But that’s OK! With the help of our www.avoidtheoops.com supplies and their willingness to earn more time for the next day, most of the oopses are picked up.
  • Their moods have improved. We have less fighting, less bickering, and more helping.

 

Grab your free chore chart printable here!

(or click the photo below)

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer free chore chart printable

How do you get your kids involved in household chores? What age do you start?

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers: Creating a Toddler Room To Grow

This post brought to you by Disney Junior. The content and opinions expressed below are that of mine alone.

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow

Babies turn into toddlers quite quickly. One minute they’re crawling on the ground and cooing and laughing and the next minute they’re running down the hall pointing at an object and saying (kind of) words. Their little brains are working so hard and so fast that if you don’t keep a look out for the changes, it may happen without you even knowing it!

Luckily we’ve been through this a few times before and it’s come to my attention over the past few weeks that my 15 month old has officially changed from a baby into a toddler. It almost feels like overnight. She’s still very much a baby but through her actions and reactions to our everyday adventures she is starting to act a whole lot more like me and her sister. She’s definitely our little MinnieMe.

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Playing with Siblings

From wanting to help us bake and cook, to demanding that we read her a favorite book before bed as we cuddle on her new full size bed with cute new Minnie Mouse bedding, to insisting she wear the same thing as her older sister like her new adorable Minnie Mouse Toddler Girl 2-Fer Dress, or use the same Disney Minnie Mouse Bows and Dots Beach Towel after bath time, our little toddler loves to try and keep up with us no matter what we’re doing.

I cannot believe how much or how fast she is changing. And I don’t know if I can keep up! I feel like she went from not caring one bit about walking to going non-stop in her own direction. She definitely takes after us and I know she’ll be just as energetic and opinionated as her sister. 

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers - bedtime routines

So the time has come for us to give our baby turned toddler her own space. We’ve fixed up a new room for her brother upstairs and have begun creating a room just for her. Inspired by her baby shower and her first birthday, we’ve used elements from Minnie Mouse to create a fun, playful atmosphere for her to learn and grow in. 

This Mother’s Day reminded me of how quickly these kids change and how much we need to preserve our memories with them. So as I transform her room for her, I want to share what we change and what we add to encourage her journey into toddlerhood. 

Tips on creating a toddler room to grow: 

  1. Purchase a twin or full size bed. Toddler beds are not comfortable… let me tell you! And when we transitioned the kids into their own beds, it was much easier to give them a full size bed then a small bed. And we didn’t have to buy another bed when they outgrew the toddler bed! 
  2. Get a full size dresser and add a changing table box with pad to the top of it instead of using a separate changing table. Again… one less piece of furniture to buy! 
  3. Utilize photos or memorabilia from your child’s baby shower, birthdays, etc to decorate the room. We were able to repurpose her name sign from her baby shower as wall art.

Here’s a sneak peek at her almost finished toddler room:

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow with Disney Baby

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow #MinnieMe

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow changing table

Looking to create a fun toddler room of your own?

Check out these adorable Disney Junior Minnie Mouse items and grab a few things that would work for your explorative toddler! Not quite ready for a full size bed? Check out this Disney Minnie Mouse Bow Power 4-piece Toddler Bedding Set! So cute.

Watching my two little “MinnieMe’s” grow has been one of the greatest joys in my life. This time together with them goes quickly and I’m definitely soaking up every minute of it!

Visit Sponsors Site

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline

We’re thankful for summer and sharing a great way to get outdoors with an outdoor movie night idea brought to you thanks to our partnership with Hershey’s via MomTrends.  

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline

Summertime always comes and immediately the one thing that runs through my head as a work from home mom is: how in the world am I going to take care of the kids all day AND get work done?

But this summer I’m approaching things differently. I’m not resenting the fact that our school cancelled their summer program right after all of the local museum classes filled up, or the fact that I don’t have a backup child care set in place because I didn’t think about it in February when apparently everyone else did. I’m going to make the best of our summers together and really strive to be thankful for summer.

At the end of the day, summer is the only real time I have to fully enjoy my kids until they move out of the house. That means 10 summers left with my oldest, 12 with my middle, and 17 with my youngest. Those are going to go by FAST!

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with siblings

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer

1. More Time With The Kids – 

While having the kids home all summer will be hard to balance my work/life workload, having more time with the kids is always a good thing and something to be thankful for. Even though I still have to work, I can take an afternoon or morning off each week to really spend one on one time with the kids. Plus we have some help from family so they can have fun adventures with Grandma, their great aunts, or their cousins throughout the summer too. 

2. Later Bedtime – 

Because we don’t have to wake up early, I can choose to spend more time with the kids at night (watching movies outside!) or catch up on work after bed time. The kids love having the freedom of no bedtime and actually get to bed by 9pm when this happens so they’re not up too late. And everyone is in a better mood when we go to bed and get up when our bodies tell us to. 

3. No Alarm Clock – 

Ok, confession: I don’t use an alarm clock. But I do have to wake up at 6:30am every day during the school year to make sure the kids get out the door and to school on time. Because we don’t have to actually get up and go somewhere (if we choose not to), we can sleep in. AND? We can have pajama days. Lots and lots of pajama days! 

4. Warm Weather – 

I love that we get to enjoy all summer together when the weather is nice. Sure there’s a few weeks where it’s unbearably hot. But living here in San Diego means that we can take full advantage of the beaches, pools, and other outdoor (and some indoor) areas to keep cool. I fully plan on taking advantage of our location this year and have quite a few beach days planned for us. Even if that means I have to get my keyboard a little sandy while I work and they play. 

5.  Fun Adventures – 

With the warmer weather and lack of an actual place we have to be, we can have fun adventures this summer (and every summer) that we wouldn’t have had the freedom to do during the school year. As I mentioned previously, we’ll take full advantage of our location. But I’m also planning at least one road trip and a few staycations to enjoy ourselves this year. I’m also hoping to schedule at least one activity outside the home a week. That way I’m not too stressed about too many activities but we still get to do fun things. 

So far here are some of my ideas for summer fun adventures: hikes, beach/pool days, zoo trip, free days at museums, movies in the middle of the day, trip to the water park, trip to the mountains, gardening club, city clean up days, trip to the aquarium

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline and making homemade ice cream5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with homemade popcorn

One of our fun adventures this summer will be getting outdoors and enjoying movie night on our trampoline. And it’s SUPER simple! 

Outdoor Movie Night On A Trampoline

  1. Grab a white sheet plus a pile of blankets and pillows.
  2. Hang the white sheet over one side of the net on your trampoline and clamp down with clamps (I just use the clamps I use for my photo backdrops here).
  3. Set out the blankets and pillows so everyone is comfy. 
  4. Make some fun snacks with the kids like this delicious homemade chocolate ice cream in a bag with Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup or popcorn in a bag.
  5. Grab a projector and start playing the movie! 

 

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with blankets and pillows

What #Simply5 words describe a sweet memory that’s made your day special? 

Sometimes, even the process of enjoying the little things in life – like movie night – becomes complicated. It shouldn’t require a year-long commitment or tons of planning.

In honor of the sweet and simple ingredients in Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup and the sweet and simple memories that it inspires, we want people to share the sweetness in everyday moments. Take a moment to “stop and smell the chocolate” and share your #Simply5 – a five word recount of what makes your day sweet.

Post your #Simply5 on social media by sharing a five word recap of what makes your day special! 

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with Hershey's Simply 5

Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup is a sweet and simple take on original Hershey’s Syrup, now made with five simple ingredients. You can find more recipes and fun things to do with Hershey’s by visiting them on Facebook or following along on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Hershey’s via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hershey’s or Momtrends.

Science in the Kitchen: Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag

We’re getting creative in the kitchen with this fun Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream in a Bag recipe brought to you thanks to our partnership with Hershey’s via MomTrends.  

Science in the Kitchen Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag

This weekend the kids and I got a little creative in the kitchen. After finding that my husband ate the last of the ice cream, they were determined to make a fun sweet treat to enjoy while we watched movies together. So I suggested we make ice cream. Now their first reaction was one of disbelief. Not that they hadn’t made ice cream before, but because our ice cream maker has been in the garage since we’ve moved here and they knew that wasn’t going to happen. So when I suggested that we shake and make our own homemade ice cream in a bag like I used to with my grandma, their eyes lit up and they were 100% on board to try things out.

While we were going over what ingredients we needed – ice, ice cream salt, heavy whipping cream, vanilla, sugar – my son spotted the HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup and asked if we could turn our ice cream into chocolate chip ice cream like the kind we’ve made before with a ribbon of homemade ganache. Instead of nixing the idea right away, I asked him what he’d do to make chocolate chip ice cream from the syrup. His mind started going and the ideas started cranking out.

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag ingredients

He settled on an experiment he wanted to try out: If we squeezed a ribbon of HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup onto wax paper and froze it, would it become hard so we could break it up into our ice cream?

So I let him set everything up and try it out. After about 3 hours in the freezer, though, the syrup was very cold, but not solid. So he decided that we’d just drizzle the chocolate in the ice cream mix to make a chocolate ice cream. Even though his hypothesis was wrong, he still ended up with a pretty yummy outcome!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag with Hershey's Simply 5

Each of the older two had their own bags of ice cream and both decided on stopping when it became the consistency of soft serve vs. waiting until it became a more formed ice cream (see the photo below). If you don’t like a little melted ice cream, feel free to shake until the ice cream turns harder.

Just a little squeeze of the HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup, brings back cherished childhood memories I created with my family so it was fun to do this with my kids. It’s an easy way to share a sweet and simple moment with my family. We also love enjoying a glass of milk with a little swirl of syrup inside!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag and just right

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 drizzle of HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup
  • 6 tablespoons ice cream salt
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1 gallon size zippered plastic bag
  • 1 quart size zippered plastic bag

In the quart size zippered plastic bag, add heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup. Seal tight making sure to get most of the air out.

In the freezer size zippered plastic bag, add the ice and ice cream salt. Then add the ice cream mixture bag. Shake, shake, shake like crazy until your ice cream starts forming (about 3-5 minutes of shaking). I suggest putting on some dance music to make it more enjoyable!

Once your ice cream has formed, wipe off any excess salt from the bag and snip a corner of the bag with some scissors (if soft serve consistency) to pour into a cup or bowl. Or use a spoon to scoop out (if harder consistency). Drizzle with more HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup and enjoy!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag with Hershey's Simply 5 syrup

HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup is a sweet and simple take on the HERSHEY’S classic, now made with five simple ingredients. You can find more recipes and fun things to do with HERSHEY’S by visiting them on Facebook or following along on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Hershey’s via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hershey’s or Momtrends.

Finding Teachable Moments With Our Kids

This conversation featuring 10 places to find teachable moments is brought to you by Vroom

Finding Teachable Moments With Our Kids

Over the past few years I’ve come to realize how important it is to turn average, everyday moments into teachable moments with our kids. Not only are they the most relaxed when we’re just doing our own thing and going through our day, they’re also more apt to ask questions and really take in what you’re telling them when you share something with them in the moment.

In an effort to take advantage of these moments, I’ve listed our top 10 places to find teachable moments below.

10 Places To Find Teachable Moments

Finding Teachable Moments in the Car

1. In The Car

The one place that I find ourselves the most disconnected from tablets and computers and phones is the car. For one… no wifi! And we’re in the car at least twice a day to and from school for drop off and pick up. While we don’t necessarily talk the whole time we’re in the car, we are together in a confined space with no where else to go until we get to our destination.

I’ve found that this is the great time to not only ask about their day, but to open up about topics we might not have thought about. And what’s most crazy is that those topics don’t just pop up… they’re provoked by the one thing that is on in the car: the radio. Whether it’s a song that comes on, or something the announcer says, my kids and I have had great talks about everything from racism to politics to math after a topic was sparked by what we hear on the radio.

2. On A Walk

We love taking family walks. It’s important for us to get outdoors with the kids so we try and make time for walks as a family. Whether we’re heading out to the park or up the road to grab an ice cream cone after dinner, it’s a great time to bring things up. We also love talking about what’s going on in our neighborhood and what we see around us.

3. After School

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone but my son never gives me any information about what’s going on at school or what’s coming up. My daughter, on the other hand, gets in the car after school ready to share about her day. But when I do want to know what’s going on with him I don’t just ask what he did at school. I find ways around the obvious question and ask him other things that might lead to a conversation about his day. I found some really great conversation starters here.

4. During Dinner Time

Dinner time in our home is family time. And it doesn’t just start when we sit at the table to eat. By getting the kids involved in making dinner with me, I can teach them little things in the kitchen that they can continue to learn as they get older. Whether its dumping in the ingredients into a bowl like my 15 month old, chopping up veggies like the older kids, or unloading the dishwasher like my husband, everyone has something to do when we get dinner ready. This gives us the opportunity to spend time with one another while we teach each other new things. You can find more tips for creating a family table at meal time here.

5. On A Trip

When we leave home for trips, whether it’s for vacation or a simple get away for the day, we try to take any opportunity we can to teach our children about something. If we’re heading to Boston to visit family, we make sure to schedule a few historical stops along the way, or if we’re going to the San Diego Zoo, we try and get the kids involved in learning more about the animals we see. By just exploring the world around them, they soak in everything.

6. In The Bathroom

So if you’re a parent you know that you can’t do anything alone anymore. And that includes going to the bathroom. While it may not be the most enjoyable thing, I’ve found that my kids curiosity in the bathroom has helped open our channels of communication about things we might not have discussed until a later age. I’m pretty open about the birds and the bees with my kids. While I do make sure to keep it at an age appropriate level, most of the talks I’ve had with my son and daughter have started in the bathroom.

Finding Teachable Moments in the back yard

7. In The Back Yard

Our back yard is our oasis. Whether we’re gardening together, playing together, or taking care of our many animals, having an active back yard has allowed us the opportunity to continue to teach our children about how to grow their own food and how to take care of another being. By just making things available to them, like a few planters to plant whatever veggies or flowers they want to plant, I’ve come to realize how independent they become and how much they’ve learned by just observing us.

8. In The Classroom

Now this might sound like a no-brainer but it’s not on the list for why you think. If you work outside of the home it may be hard to do, but volunteering in your child’s classroom can really open the doors of communication and help in teaching them at home.

I’ve found that by observing my son in class and seeing how he learns things there has helped how I approach teaching him certain things at home. Homework time is also a great time to check in with them and see how they’re doing.  By being active and in communication with his teacher, I’ve been able to see what his strengths are academically and what he needs help with.

9. At A Friend’s House

Growing up I learned so much about the differences between each family after heading to a friend’s house for a playdate or sleep over. The family dynamics are so different between one household and another and by going to friends houses to see their family dynamic, we’ve been able to teach our kids that being different is great. We also make sure they feel comfortable in asking questions they have about those differences.

10. With Family Members

One thing I absolutely love about living close to family are the different life lessons their grandparents and aunts and uncles can teach them. Whether it’s just hanging out at Grandma’s house or going on an adventure with their Great aunts or uncles, being able to learn different ways from different people has allowed our kids to get a bigger perspective on the world around them.

Finding Teachable Moments with Family Members

In an effort to inspire every caregiver to think more about teachable moments, the Bezos foundation has started a fun campaign called the Vroom initiative. Vroom was developed based on the premise that every child is born with enormous potential, and every parent can help them realize that potential. The Vroom Superhero campaign demonstrates the heroic role that every parent and caregiver plays in the lives of children, and reinforces the message that anyone can be a Vroom Superhero to a child.

You can find a little more about the campaign in the video below:

Vroom was designed to give parents and caregivers simple tools that turn everyday activities, like mealtime and bath time, into brain building moments. We want to empower parents and caregivers like Camellia to interact with their children during their daily routines, engaging them in activities that require no additional time or resources but have outsize long-term benefits.

Become a superhero and join Vroom today!

How do you make teachable moments fun?

Tips For New Soccer Moms

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 9.13.30 PM

Soccer can be a great activity for kids who are looking to burn off some energy and learn some new skills. These tips for new soccer moms can make the transition to this sport a bit easier!

Tips for New Soccer Moms

So you’ve signed up for soccer. Now what?

If you’ve never played the sport like me, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how to help your child succeed in this new sport. And if your child isn’t as athletically inclined as his teammates you might want a few pointers on how to nudge him in the right direction. You never know! She may turn out to be a rockstar on the field after a bit of practice and learning the ropes!

Ever since I found out I was pregnant with my son I had visions of him on the field. I didn’t know what sport he would play but I knew I wanted to share my love of sports with my kid. So when he finally turned 3, and then 4, and then 5 I would ask if he wanted to try this sport or sign up for that. And the answer was always a resounding no. That is until he started kindergarten and found out that all of his friends would be on the soccer team. Then we finally got the commitment we were waiting for. And he’s played for the past two years.

Over these two seasons I’ve come to learn a few things. I’m sharing these tips for new soccer moms as a way to ease you into the game and give you some ideas on how you can help your child transition into a new sport.

Tips For New Soccer Moms - teach techniques

Tips For New Soccer Moms

1. Get Organized

  • When you first get on the team: Use a site like Shutterfly to create a team page (or ask the team parent if they’re going to set it up). Not only is it a great source for information about the players and the schedule, it’ll also send you friendly reminders about practices, games, snack schedules, and just about anything else you add to it! I use this one each year.
  • At the first practice: Create a roster or ask for a roster of players and phone numbers so you have everyone’s contact information. It’s also helpful to have the schedule printed on the bottom of the roster along with any other important information – like the snack schedule – so you can keep it handy on the fridge.
  • Before a game: Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have already inputted the address of the game you’re driving to in Google maps so you have an idea of when to leave your house. There’s been more than one occasion when I didn’t check an address before and assumed the field was only 15 minutes away when it was, in fact, over 30 minutes away!

Tips For New Soccer Moms - remember a snack

2. Be Prepared For Everything

  • Make sure to pack the essentials: chairs, outdoor blanket, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella (you never know!), etc. Keep it all in your soccer bag so that come game day all you have to do is grab the bag and the chairs and head out the door. Or just keep them all in your trunk like I do. You might also want to consider seeing if someone on the team has a pop up tent to set up on the sidelines for the kids who are sitting out that half. One game I even saw a team with this awesome bench of chairs for the kids to sit on!
  • Keep a box of Costco-sized snacks in the trunk: On one or two occasions, one of the parents assigned snack duty will forget. Come to the rescue with some goldfish or even some mandarin oranges and you’ll be the team’s new favorite mom.
  • Bring a first aid kit: I was surprised to find how few people carry first aid kits in their cars these days. Head over to the store and grab a basic first aid kit to keep on the sidelines just in case. It’s also helpful to have a cooler with ice packs too.
  • Have toys on hand for siblings: If you’re like me and have not one but three kids, distractions for the other kids is important. We can get away with distracting them with an extra soccer ball and some fun portable toys to play with the other siblings at the game.

Tips For New Soccer Moms - start young

3. Make Friends (and Carpool Buddies)

  • Chat with the other parents at the game: It helps to know a few parents on the team. Exchange numbers and find out if they live close to you. It might be fun to get together between games to work on skills and build fun friendships outside of school. It also will help if you get in a bind and need someone to help carpool your kid to a practice or game.
  • Plan a fun activity outside of practice and games: build comraderie and coordinate a fun pizza outing or other activity after a game.

Tips For New Soccer Moms - sockit light up soccer trainer

4. Utilize A Few (Inexpensive) Tools

  • Make sure you have the right size ball: Depending on your child’s age and level, you need the right sized ball. Check with the coach to make sure you purchase the right one.
  • Get a pair of cleats and shin guards and a few pair of socks: Take your child in to get fitted for cleats to make sure they’re the right size. The sales associate can make sure you don’t buy the wrong pair and end up with football cleats. There are different kinds of shin guards on the market. There’s one that you just put in your socks as well as one with elastic bands with velcro on them that your child can put around his/her calf. The first season we got the latter and my son HATED them. So this time around we got the one you put in your socks. So much easier for him. Multiple socks are a must if you have a child who loves to get dirty as muc has mine. That way you aren’t sending your kid to practice or a game with stained and dirty socks (yes… I’ve done this before).
  • While not required, having a collapsable goal is nice: We like to practice in the front yard so we picked up a collapsable soccer net that we could put up and down as needed.
  • Grab a Sockit: If your child needs help with their soccer skills, consider grabbing a SOCKIT*. The SOCKIT is a light-up kicking device designed to improve your soccer game so you can level up on form, power, and technique. It’s simple—kick the ball right and it lights up, giving you instant feedback. We’ve been using it for the past week and have loved how it’s taught our son where to aim his foot when he takes a shot. The SOCKIT trainer goes over your child’s cleat and, as I mentioned before, lights up when they kick the ball in the correct place. It’s amazing how motivating the Sockit can be! It lights up with every correct kick so when your child is practicing they can focus on hitting the ball with your foot in the right place. It’s a great tool and easily portable so we could bring it to practice with us.

*You can purchase the SOCKIT here and can get 15% off with code simmworksfamily15. This code expires on 4/30/16 and must be entered at check out.

Tips for New Soccer Moms - sockit

Feeling more confident about starting a new sport? You got this!

Have any tips to add? What sports do your kids play?

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms

Like most moms, my number one priority is my children. Our day to day lives, as well as the decision we make for our future, revolve around them. So when it comes to our health, I also want to make sure I remember to not only take care of the kids but myself as well. By making a few changes to our daily routine I’ve been able to focus on my health without drastically changing how I’m living or taking too much time on one thing. Because we all know if it takes too much time, it isn’t going to happen.

We want to experience more of life’s precious moments. But to do that, we must be healthy in heart and mind. As the American Heart Association reminds us, the heart is where life’s moments are felt most, and the mind is where we relive them again and again. Making healthy living a priority for moms is easy when you have the right tools! By making these changes we can impact better heart and brain health. You have the power to affect real change!

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms - go on adventures

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms

Make Simple Changes 

Healthy living doesn’t mean changing your whole way of living. It means changing a few small things to make a big impact. Here are a few changes you can implement in your daily lives that have big impacts:

  1. Eat more fruits and veggies – Consider joining a CSA or a food delivery program that delivers fresh produce right to your door! We love Farm Fresh to You’s veggie/fruit deliveries.
  2. Eat less sodium – Read labels and see where sodium is hiding. Then reduce the amount you’re eating!
  3. Drink less sugary sweetened beverages – Do you drink soda? Cut down your consumption or switch it for flavored water!
  4. Increase your physical activity – just add a 30-minute walk in a day! Then increase from there.
  5. Check and control blood pressure – regular check ups with your doctor are important for overall health.

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms - spend time with kids

Find a Work-Life Balance

Sometimes the stress in our lives is made when we try and do too much or take on too many tasks. Finding that work/life balance can help ease stress and reduce health problems. Here are some basic changes to make:

  1. Set office hours and stick to them! If you work outside of the home, this may be easy, but if you work from home like me, office hours are a must. This also applies to SAHMs. You can create a schedule around kids activities, focusing on the home, etc so you are using your time more efficiently.
  2. But also, schedule some family/home hours as well. Between school pick-up and bedtime are the times during the week that I focus on the kids and after 10 a.m. on the weekends is family time. I try not to work on holidays as well so I make it clear that I’m not available on those days.
  3. “Me time” is important as well. I make sure to get out once a month and focus on myself. Whether that’s mom’s night out, getting a pedicure, or getting my hair cut, even as little as one hour is enough for me to recharge. You could even consider creating a Moms group where you get together once a month at each other’s houses just to get some mom time in.

AHA

Implement Change One Step At A Time

Don’t rush into these changes all at once. While one or two changes may be ok right now, making too many changes may lead to defeat. Consider adding 1-2 new changes into your routine a week and work from there. By the time you realize it, you may have already implemented some great changes in your life and are already becoming a healthier you.

Remember, these changes are not only for you but for your whole family! Make it fun and challenge the other family members in your home to participate as well! Take a walk at night as a family to tackle increasing physical activity AND spending family time together. Or consider a screen time ban after dinner so you create family time.

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms - mental health days

The American Heart Association (AHA) has resources for healthy living, like recipes, healthy tips and tricks for moms, and information and resources on heart and brain health. They’re working to improve the health of communities by affecting laws through advocacy initiatives. As an organization, the AHA is funding life-saving research and science advances to help people live healthier, longer lives. You can find more resources by visiting Life Is Why.

Looking for more support? The Moms Unite Facebook Group is also a great place for fellow moms to get together in an effort to encourage one another and share tips for leading a healthy life. Check out what they have on Pinterest too!

Everyone has a reason to live a healthier, longer life. What’s yours?

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Sleep Tips for Kids + A Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub Recipe

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Sleep Tips for Kids plus a Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub recipe

Last week I was invited to host and attend a seminar hosted by Radys Children’s Health Network and Children’s Primary Care Medical Group. Cleverly titled, “Good Night, Sleep Tight” the conversations of the night covered the topic of sleep. We were greeted by two local physicians who both chat a lot about sleep with their parents. Dr. Adrienne Lostetter is a pediatrician and member of the Children’s Primary Care Medical Group. And Dr. Rakesh Bhattacharjee is a pediatric pulminologist and director of the Sleep Center at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego.

Both tackled the topic of sleep as Dr. Lostetter covered typical sleep cycles and how to help our kids get to sleep. Dr. Bhattacharjee helped us understand the issues that arise when there are sleep problems (more on that topic later!). Then we had a little fun when Jimbo’s… Naturally! shared some fun sugar scrub recipes with us. Including an adapted version of my Vanilla Mint scrub that the attendees could make and take home with them! I share the peppermint coffee sugar scrub they demonstrated for us below!

Now I know that each kid is different, as is each kid’s sleep patterns. And each family is different too. While below is the advice of Dr. Lostetter, I do want to note that we have co-slept with all three of our kids. I feel that having them near me is the safest when they’re infants and my older two have since transitioned to their own beds in their own rooms easily and without issue. But more on that later!

Sleep Tips for Kids

Sleep Tips for Kids

from Dr. Adrienne Lostetter of Children’s Primary Care Medical Group

Infants & Toddlers

Infant sleep cycles may vary until about 6 months of age. Newborns can sleep about 16-17 hours per day but might only sleep in 1 or 2 hour chunks of time. As babies get older, they need less sleep. However, all babies are different – even each of your own kids are different!

The best sleeping surface is a firm mattress without all of those cute bumper pads and comforters. SIDS is a real concern at this age so make sure they are “back to sleep” in a safe crib.

Toddlers need plenty of sleep as well. About 11-12 hours of sleep a day, including naps, will help them grow up healthy. Like teens, children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. They also tend to have tired cues and reading these can help prevent bedtime battles.

Preschoolers

Preschoolers need 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Somewhere between ages 3-5, your child will likely stop nap time. This transition can be hard. To make it easier on both parents and kids, move their bedtime earlier slowly over time so they get plenty of sleep. Make sure to establish bedtime routines – kids thrive on routines.

Teens

For adolescents, 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night is recommended. Keeping a similar weekday and weekend schedule leads to less fatigue.

Teens who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression. They are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents and have better grades/higher standardized test scores. Most importantly, they will have an overall better quality of life.

You can find more tips on developing better sleep routines for kids here and a few bedtime tips here.

Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub

Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub

Combine all ingredients & mix well. Store in an air-tight container and enjoy in your next bath or shower. Should last 7 days in the shower.

Once you finally get your kids in bed, what’s the first thing you do?

How to Make Reading Fun: Learning to Love Reading Early On


How to Make Reading Fun Learning to Love Reading Early On

Igniting a love for reading in children is important, and the earlier you do so the better! Children who learn to love reading at a young age master sight words quickly, develop larger vocabularies, and tend to read above grade level later in life. And the early years of development between 0-5 years of age are crucial for setting a foundation for a lifelong love of reading and learning. 

I remember the love I had for reading. How I could get lost in a book and transform my world around me into the place I was reading about. It was an amazing way to escape real life and immerse myself into an adventure. The magic that comes from reading a book continued with me and still to this day I can become absolutely consumed with the book I am reading. That passion and love of reading is something I’ve always wanted to pass on to my children. And as my oldest begins his reading journey, I hope to share that love with him. 

If you want to inspire a love for reading in your own child, take a look below at 5 helpful tips on how to make reading fun, and ignite a love for reading early on. These tips can help you inspire their own love for reading and make them readers for life!

 Shared Bedroom Ideas for Brother and Sister - bookshelf

Tips on How to Make Reading Fun

1. Model reading.

Can you recall your own parents being readers? Let your children see you enjoy reading. Keep your own books on hand and next to your bed or on the coffee table. Let them see you enjoying your books, and you can even tell them what your favorite parts where about the book. If you aren’t into novels, even modeling reading the newspaper or magazines is a great start! If they see you reading for pleasure, they are more likely to do the same. You can even do a book club together, and meet over snacks to talk about the book!

2. Let them choose their own texts.

When you explore the library together, let them gravitate towards texts that interest them. Even if the book is above their reading level, let them have practice handling it and exploring it. If they seem to enjoy magazines, short stories, or even online reads, let them lead in navigating. While it is wise to choose skill appropriate texts, giving them some freedom helps keep the experience a more positive one and gives you an idea of what interests them.

3. Find words all around you.

We are surrounded by words, and it is fun and important to point this out to children. Show them words on cereal boxes, billboards, candy wrappers, and anywhere else you may seem them. Invite them to point out words they recognize, and help them with words they don’t or they are curious about. Go on a word hunt and see all of the places in the house you can find words to read. To make your environment really rich in text, make flash cards using the sight words you want to work on. Hang these up all over the house so your child can practice and identify the word as they walk by.

4. Read nightly, and read enthusiastically.

Do you have fond memories of being read to at night? Set aside time each night before bed for at least one book. You can read it, or they can along with you. Don’t let this appear to be a chore but something you enjoy doing. Do the best you can to show enthusiasm, using the voices and any hand motions or props that may make the story better. Make it a wonderful and enjoyable experience that you look forward to each night.

5. Make reading interactive.

Give children sticky notes that they can use in their books to mark pages they enjoy, have questions about, or want to remember to show you. You can also use highlighting tape to highlight words they know or don’t know as they read, or to mark the page number they left off on. You can give them puppets or stuffed animals to read to or act out the stories with, or let them draw about what they read when done. This makes the reading experience interactive, fun, and continues the learning process.

Kids Reading Nook Idea - Access to Books

Reading is such an amazing part of life, and one that you don’t want your child to miss out or get behind on so starting young is important! By talking, reading, & singing with our children, we help them learn and grow in the world around them. The importance of recent brain science in child development cannot be overstated. More than 80% of a child’s brain is developed by age 3, so it’s no wonder that the first three years of a child’s life are referred to as the “Golden Years” for brain development and strengthening. Give these tips a try and see how you can help them find a love for reading that is sure to stay with them throughout their lives.

First 5 California as a great, free resource for information. From activities to use with your children, to PDFs of books and videos that help parents learn how to teach their children in a variety of ways. Plus, there are so many articles to download and use for later.

How do you inspire your children to Talk.Read.Sing.®?

Teaching My Daughter To Find Her Dreams + a DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial

This shop featuring a tutorial on DIY Vertical Toy Storage has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InspireBigDreams #DreamBigPrincess #CollectiveBias

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial

My daughter. She is so strong. She’s always known what she wanted since she was a small child. I’m sure many of my family members remembered how she’d refuse a bottle because she knew she only wanted to nurse. She’d make my husband drive her all the way to my work to nurse her at lunch time. And then would wait until I got home to eat again. She still, to this day, knows exactly what she wants. And for the most part she knows how to get it.

From finishing fun projects she’s set out to start, to learning new things and going on fun exploratory journeys to do so. She is so brave. And so generous. And just the kindest girl I know. Sometimes I look at her and wonder how I got so lucky to have a daughter like her. She’s a lot like some of her favorite Disney Princesses. Inquisitive like Ariel, adventurous like Rapunzel, and smart like Tiana.

The other day she came to me asking if she could help kids who might not have as much as her. We had talked about how blessed we are as a family a few nights prior and how much we have after one of the kids had a meltdown after not getting a toy at a store. We went over how not everyone was blessed enough to have a huge birthday party every year, or is able to go to theme parks with their family, or even get new toys at Christmas and on birthdays. So my sweet girl asked how she could help make sure other kids got the gifts and toys they deserved. How could I not help her with this?

Building a DIY Vertical Toy Storage needs precise measurementsDIY Vertical Toy Storage - glue pieces before screwing together

So we set out to make a list of all of the places we could ask for donations. We also thought about how we could also chip in a bit to purchase new toys. And we came up with a game plan. Any time we head over to Toys ‘R Us to window shop or pick out a gift, we’re going to grab one extra. Guess what Molly’s doing to help? She’s saving up her dollars to use on the extras we purchase. Yup! She thought of that all by herself too. That kid. She makes me proud. 

And then she asked if we could make a toy chest for her room so she could put all of the extra toys we collect somewhere as we collect them. Since I’m not one to squash her ideas and dreams, we set fourth to make a great DIY vertical toy storage with her help, of course.  Why not build up her dreams literally and figuratively? 

DIY Vertical Toy Storage - measure twice cut onceDIY Vertical Toy Storage takes focus to build

With the help of a few princesses, some tiny field mice, a dad’s guiding hand, and a mother’s encouragement our project came together quite nicely. I think it’s absolutely amazing that both of our older kids love helping my husband and me with our projects. Whether it’s sanding, glueing, hammering, and even using a drill, they’re up for the challenge. It doesn’t hurt to have a super handy husband who can make just about anything. So when I drew out my vision he was 100% on board with creating a plan. 

Now her new dolls have a home, and we have designated to top box for new toys we’ve collected to donate. At the end of every quarter we’ll collect up our toys and find a local charity in need to donate them to. 

The best part about all of this? Now my youngest will have her own person to look up to and learn from. And I know her sister is going to teach her every thing she knows about following her dreams. Sure she’s only 1, but it’s never too early to encourage them to be strong and think for themselves even if it is a bit difficult at times. I’m up for the challenge! 

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial top tiers

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial and twirling with princessesDIY Vertical Toy Storage disney princess royal shimmer dolls

DIY Vertical Toy Storage

What you need:

  • 2 2’x6’x8′ doug fir boards
  • 3 1’x8’x8′ western red cedar boards
  • wood glue
  • miter saw
  • 3/8ths inch drill bit + drill
  • pocket screw jig
  • 12 1 1/2″ pocket screws
  • 12 2 1/2″ 5/16ths bolts
  • 12 5/16ths T nuts
  • 12 5/16ths washers

What you do:

Build 3 Boxes

  1. For the first box, cut one 1 x 8 x 8′ board into the following:
    – 2 – 24″ sections (front and back of boxes),
    – 1 – 22 1/2″ section (bottom),
    – 2 – 7 1/2″ section (sides)
  2. Screw and glue the pieces together. 
  3. Repeat again to make 3 boxes total

Build Side Box Supports

  1. Cut 2 x 6 x 8″ boards to 74″ long. These will become the side supports of your vertical storage.
  2. Lean one of the sides against a wall. Put a straight edge on ground against 2 x 6. Trace angle on 2×6. We used a 50 degree angle. Cut along line you have drawn. Transfer angle to other 2 X 6 and cut to match.
  3. Now put straight edge against wall and trace line on 2 X 6. Cut along line. Repeat for other 2 X 6. Both pieces should be identical.

Attach Boxes

  1. Lay one of the 2 x 6’s flat on the ground. Position one of the boxes in the lowest spot (bottom of box should be about 8-12 inches up from bottom of the board). Make sure to adjust box so that it’s level once it is resting on the wall. Next, lay out the second box. Finally position the third.
  2. When happy with the spacing, use screws to attach box to 2 x 6 side. Now put other 2 x 6 side flat on the ground. Flip partially assembled side to rest on 2 x 6. Attach with screws once lined up.
  3. Reinforce with bolts once unit is assembled with screws.

DIY Vertical Toy Storage close up of boxes DIY Vertical Toy Storage inside of box

DIY Vertical Toy Storage also good for books

If your daughter is interested in following her dreams and ideas, check out this great video from Disney on how she can be a champion too. You can find the full line of Disney Princesses at Toys ‘R Us including my daughter’s favorite Disney Princess Royal Shimmer Dolls and Little Kingdom Ariel’s Sea Castle. They’re easy to find when you look for the dedicated Disney Princesses aisle in store. 

Dream Big Princess Display at Toys R Us

How do you support your daughter’s dreams?



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