Chores, chores, chores…who’s gonna help?

 

Chores are one of those miserable things that no one ever really likes to do but some secretly enjoy behind closed doors. Chores are also the thing often “pawned off” to some one else. My thought is that if everyone in the house just contributed to keeping themselves tidy, chores wouldn’t even really be a thing…or at least not as awful.

Image result for kids doing chores

Imagine if the whole family took 30 minutes each day and viola, you could head to the movies, park, mountain, library on Saturday?

Image result for park        Image result for movie theater    Image result for nature

While we are tackling bedtime, why not throw in a few stress saving, chore reducing, happy family inducing tips too??

Daily chore calendar

Daily Chores Chart

Something like this gives you a daily task list up top with those easy to do everyday tasks which are so important for kids to learn (teaching a sense of responsibility, too!) while also adding one more super helpful family chore. These are also able to be tailored to age appropriateness which is a bonus is my book.

Presentation is everything! Something like this is fun for the kids who like to see their progress. With this set up you can use magnets and baking sheets to show your kids what is on the to-do list and give them a spot to put all the completed tasks. You could use velcro on a laminated paper, or “chore tokens” that go in a jar whatever it is that helps your kids see where they started and when they will be “done.” Just like I enjoy crossing off my to-do list, kids also like acknowledging their jobs well done regardless of the task.

magnet chore chart  paint different colors of wood circles for different kids

 

I also think it’s a fun idea to give a bonus for those chores that get done really focused and awesomely. Maybe even before the “assigned” day or without it being on the list. Teaching young that sometimes going the extra mile comes with a sweet reward encourages them to go for it all the time. Even if that sweet reward is just a few extra minutes with friends after school or an extra dessert in the lunch. It doesn’t always have to be a movie night, pizza party and $20 dollar bill (although a garage clean out, tupperware drawer organization, or donation closet clean out may warrant that), helping out is just that and it should always be acknowledged. My favorite is a thank you when one isn’t expecting it, or doesn’t know their good deed has been found out…the look is often priceless and the cost is nothing.

Here are a couple coupon ideas to get you started! Happy coupon-ing!

No one loves chores but they also don’t have to be a nightmare, hope you’ve found a hint or two to help you get the whole family in on the gig!

Image result for kids doing chores

Still ironing out bedtime routines with the start of the new school year?

Image result for bedtime

Hey parents, trying to juggle that new school year with new bedtimes? We hear you! It’s hard to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row, and with all the changes in routines, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and disorganized.

We thought this might be an awesome place to share some of our tried and true (most of the time) tips and see if any one is willing to share one or two of their best kept tricks to getting those little ones down for the night.

First off, it’s important to know how much sleep your kids should be getting related to their age. This helps in knowing what time you should be aiming to get them into bed, lights out by counting backward from when you need them up and out the door. For example, if your 5 year old needs to be at school by 9 am and it takes about an hour to get moving each day, bedtime should be starting around 7 pm. Starting a few minutes early allows for those unforeseen “I need my other jammies!” “where is that ________?” , and an “ok, one more_____, then lights out.)” Bed time rarely goes like clock work, but allowing time help parents breathe easier and not stress themselves out. Hey, what harm is done if you get out the door 10 minutes “early?” Maybe a little grown up bowl of ice cream and some Bravo, shhhhhh, don’t jinx yourself!

hours of sleep

Once you know your timing, its important to figure out what all you want done in that time we’re calling ‘bedtime.” Are we talking teeth, jammies, book, and bed? Or packing back packing, picking out clothing, bath time, followed by teeth, jammies, book, bed? I think it is ideal to be realistic and flexible each day. We all know the dead line aka lights out, but we also know know two days are the same so no two bedtimes will go exactly the same. I’m a big fan of having visuals and/or to-do lists. It keeps me/us focused and it’s rewarding to see things being accomplished. There are a ton of free printables online or just make your own according to your families needs. I really like a quick and easy list or this little longer list for those who are a little more independent (guess where I found them- pinterest of course!).

Once the routine has begun, I find it best to stick as close to the “schedule” as possible. Kids are always looking for a way to stay up a little later and as adults, I think we often get played for fools. If you give an inch, they’ll take a mile…and the will keep that reinforcement in their memory for the next evening or poor sucker who tries to put them down. Bedtime shouldn’t be a battle but it often is. Looking back, how often did the adult in the situation keep saying “well, ok, one more but this is the last one…” or “fine, go get some water, then lights out.” I sure am guilty of it. And I then find myself guilty of being in that same hamster wheel almost daily. Lesson learned! I understand the importance of sleep on growing minds/bodies and realize schedules help the flow move smoothly in our home so I don’t mind being the “bad guy” and saying we need to save a story or two for the morning.  I’d rather not end up with an over tired monster who can’t get to sleep or stay asleep.

Image result for grumpy kid bedtime

Every family is different, every routine varies. The key to your success is to find the “recipe” that works best in your household. Maybe it’s an all family story time, followed by soft music in each bedroom. Maybe it’s song during teeth, and stories in tub. Maybe you’re a house of artists and do a little drawing session in dim lights. Whatever you do, just keep bedtime a calm and quiet time- this is not the time to have a dance party or wrestle mania (however, not a bad idea after dinner to get those final wiggles out)! Dim the lights, turn off the screens, stop the chatter, calm the mind and body.

Rest and repeat.

 

 

 

Back to School – Let’s do Lunch (and more!)

Image result for school bus

It’s official.

School is really knocking on the door. My question is, are you ready?

If you are anything like me, these things always sneak up on me and I find myself scrambling to be prepared on time. Even more often, I’m left with a heavy heart as I brainstorm awesome ideas- after the fact.

To make back to school time one of excitement for the learning that is about to occur and the social experiences our children will encounter, we hope and pray that everything goes smoothly, everyone enjoys their first days of adjusting, and dinner around the table is met with laughter, not tears and fears (for both kids and parents).

So…

In effort to kick of the 2017-2018 school year on the right foot, I’ve cheated and used my best friend pinterest to come up with a few ways to alleviate some stress and still feel like a rock star parent/caregiver.

To start off this school year, I’ve decided to go with some ideas of how to capture the memories of those first day cuties. How often are you wishing you had spent two more minutes getting that picture instead of rushing to the car/bus?

Back to school photo sign- Chalkboard/reusable

Another chalkboard photo opportunity

 

chalkboard

I’ve included some lunch making tips (for you or your “growing more independent daily” child) that aims to hit the healthy mark and gives multiple days of ideas! When the work day is too long and making lunches seems more like climbing a mountain, let these guys point you in the right direction.

Make your own school lunch

lunch.jpg

Build a healthy lunch

You’ll also find some fun notes and affirmations you can sneak into your kiddos lunch or back pack to let them know you are thinking of them…always!

Free printable lunch notes and jokes!

Printable lunch notes

Affirmations

 

Be warned, if you enter the world of “pinning” without a timer, you may find yourself doing more pinning then living. It’s a slippery slope but full of awesome time saving, parent helping, kid loving hints and tips.

 

It’s cold and gray, let’s go to the zoo!

A couple weekends ago we finally had a cooler day here in Seattle. One of those “typical” summer days; a little breeze and a couple clouds in the sky, even a threat of a drop or two of rain. It. was. lovely! and I was scheduled for a couple different volunteer shifts at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Let me tell you…the time to go to the zoo is a day just like that.

The animals are active, comfortable and enjoying a break from the beating sun that makes them so sleepy (who can blame them? I’m the same way!).

Check out these not so awesome quality pictures I got just wandering through the zoo:

 

Another fabulous thing we have going on at the zoo, is families are always growing! Right now we’ve got a handful of littles running around. Gorillas, giraffes, snow leopards, just to name a few! What fun it is to have an up close view of parenting from so many different species. Can you believe that it’s my duty, at times, to hang out and watch these guys for hours?

 

It’s such a great time to get a little end of the summer field trip and spark an interest in your littles. If you miss the end of the summer, here’s an insider tip: wait for one of those rainy days that isn’t too miserable, go to the zoo’s website and see if they are having a rainy day discount. On those days you get in for a pretty great discount, generally face far fewer crowds, AND most likely you’ll see some really playful animals!

The zoo is always a joy, in all my years of nanny and childcare it’s the one outing I encouraged as often as possible. So much so you can now find me there most weekends, being a big kid at heart. Animals, more animals, a playground or two, snack shacks, picnic spots and free roaming peacocks…who doesn’t love going a little wild?

For more info on rates, hours, events, and daily programs go to:  http://zoo.org.

bird

Wednesday, a love affair? I think not!

It’s Wednesday or in my household Hump Day. That point in the week when you know the end is near but not nearly close enough. The point when the bed is just sucking you back in and the alarm isn’t doing it’s job of annoying you to the point of getting on your feet.

Wednesday…I hate to love you and love to hate you.

Today will be long for me. I will wake up at the normal time (5:45 am). I will be on the road by 7:10 and cursing some driver by 7:13. I will go to work, smile and nod, do my job and get back in my car for the commute home. When I get home I will relish in the few minutes of Judge Judy I can sneak in if traffic allows. I will want to change into sweat pants and snack on something unhealthy but I won’t.

I won’t because that means they day is done but it’s not.

I will peel myself off the couch and curse myself for scheduling so many things in August. I will go back out into society and attend a meeting for a group I am involved in. The whole way to the meeting I will be dragging my feet, cursing my husband who no longer attends with me (too much talk, not enough action) and wondering why I am doing this to myself. I will want to turn around and go back home but I won’t.

I won’t because I care about this meeting.

I joined this group a year ago and am already seeing the improvements we are making to the community. I am enjoying the interactions with my neighbors. I am motivated to make South Park a place folks want to visit and are intrigued to explore both on foot and bicycle. I will sign in, speak up when the mood strikes, I will look at my phone every 15 minutes and try not to roll my eyes visibly when certain members drone on and on. I will leave refreshed. I will want to crawl right into bed when I get home but I won’t.

I won’t because my day still isn’t complete.

My day needs a few minutes with my family. To see their faces and hear the stories of their days. To eat a meal together and make plans for the next day. I will be tired the next day but I won’t be sad.

I won’t be sad because my day was so full. I will have filled my soul with caring for the community, myself, and my family. I will have accomplished as much as my day could handle. I will be proud and I will rejoice that the weekend is in view.

Wednesday, I love to hate you and hate to love you but either way…I’ve got this!