Category Archives: Family Life

Five Ways To Cut Your Household Spending Habits

Are you looking for ways to cut back on your spending habits? Here are some tips that will help.

Saving money is a hot topic of conversation right now, and most of us are looking for ways to curb our spending habits.

Even though some of our regular monthly bills might seem to be pretty small on their own, their cumulative effect can become a massive drain on our monthly resources.

However, there are ways that you can reduce your outgoing expenses and actually cut your spending habits almost in half. Read on to find out how you can do just that.


Is your spending out of control?

First, you need to look at the spending that you do aside from your regular bills. Many people use platforms like Amazon, Target or other retailers to find bargains online, but if you are consistently overspending, you may want to figure out the reason why.

Some of us are emotional spenders. We tend to always feel that we NEED something, and are often easily swayed into buying items that we may not necessarily need.

There is nothing wrong with this. But if you want to cut down on what you are buying try taking a screenshot of the item, or saving it in your online shopping cart and revisiting it the next day.

If you still feel you need it then great, but if you don’t then you have saved yourself some money.

Often it is the impulse and emotional high you feel when shopping that is more addictive than the items you are actually buying.

Slash your grocery bills

After your mortgage or rental payment, the money you spend on groceries can be your next biggest expense – especially if you have a large family.

However, simple habit changes such as using a grocery list can make a huge difference. By writing down your necessary grocery items, and sticking to what’s on your list, you can cut down on a lot of impulse buying.

You should also check to see if your store has a rewards program. If so, be sure to sign up. You can usually download store coupons to an app on your phone and receive cash back on some purchases.

Another way to save is by purchasing store brands. Buying store brands can save you up to 30% according to Clark Howard.

“Try a store brand just once the next time you’re at the supermarket. If you like what you buy, you save money that time and every time going forward when you buy it again,” money expert Clark Howard says.

Don’t auto-renew your bills

Many companies save their best deals for new customers, so don’t allow things like your internet/cable bills and insurance premiums auto-renew.

Instead, make a note of when your contract or premium expires, and start the search for a better deal. This can save you money year after year.

You can often get a good deal with your current company by letting them know that you have found a better deal at XYZ Company, and will be switching. They will typically offer you a price match or an even better deal.

To save money on car insurance, check out companies that offer you lower rates if you have a safe driving record.

Cars with enhanced safety features installed can also earn you lower premium rates.

Focus on your debts

Credit Card Debt

We all have some form of debt. Whether credit cards, automobile loans, or even personal loans.

One way to drastically cut your expenses is to focus on paying off or consolidating debt. If you have credit cards for instance, your monthly payments could be eating up a big portion of your take-home pay, especially if you are simply paying the minimum due each month.

Any spare cash you get should go towards clearing the balance. The more you pay off, the more you save each month and those monthly payments get reduced significantly.

Are you paying for things you don’t need?

We can all sign up for multiple subscriptions and then forget about them. I’m speaking from personal experience here. It could be cell phone apps, cable TV packages, beauty boxes, or magazine subscriptions, for example.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common things we tend to pay for that we don’t absolutely need.

How about that morning coffee habit? You could start by cutting out your daily Starbucks coffee run, and instead opt for a reusable coffee mug so you can bring your coffee from home. Trust me, those savings add up.

What about those monthly entertainment expenses? You could downgrade from premium to basic cable to save money each month. Or how about eliminating your cable bill altogether (we did) with a much cheaper monthly streaming option like Hulu.

If you’re subscribed to a newspaper or monthly magazine that you know you don’t read, cancel your subscription at renewal.

And let’s not forget about those weekly take-out meals. You can save lots of money by eating at home. Planning out your meals can make this process a lot simpler. Simply write out what you want to eat for the next seven days and stick to it.

PIN It!

If you don’t have time to prepare your meals during the work week, prep your meals on the weekend. Then place them in portion controlled containers and all you have to do is grab your meal from the fridge and go.

You can even prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them for later.

Remember, these are funds that you are just throwing away. Spend some time going through your bank statements and identify the bills and outgoing expenses that you don’t need and get them canceled.

Final thoughts

Cutting back on spending doesn’t have to be hard. By reducing your outgoing expenses and directing that money to other financial goals, you’ll be more successful in cutting your spending and adding to your overall savings.

I hope these tips help you when it comes to looking at cutting your spending habits in half. Let me know some of the ways you cut expenses in your household.

Prepare For The New School Year With These Free Printables

Free Back To School Printables

Summer break is almost over (I know, the time flew by didn’t it), and it’s time to make preparations for the new school year. The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time for kids. As a parent, you’ll want to make sure that you’re ready for the new school year as well.

Now is the perfect time to start planning. We have daily planners, a chore chart, menu planner and more.

There is also an all about me keepsake printable. This is a fun way to look back at how much your child has grown over the year.

Help your kids get off to a great start, and ensure that you stay organized with these free printables.

 

6 Easy Ways To Save Money On Your Back To School Shopping

It’s back to school season, and you’ve got a lot to buy. Whether it’s new clothing, school supplies or, computers, just thinking of all of the money you may have to spend can send your stress levels through the roof.

But with some careful planning, and these simple tips, you are sure to save some dollars on your back to school budget.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


How To Save Money

Re-use supplies from last year

Before you plan your shopping trip, take a look at last year’s school supplies, and see if they are in good condition.

Backpacks, lunchboxes, sporting equipment, binders, and other supplies can often be reused this school year.

During your search, you may even find unopened packages of pencils, ink pens, crayons, markers, and other useful items that you may have forgotten about.

 

Black Boy Going Inside School

 

Purchase items in bulk

You can multiply your savings by purchasing supplies in bulk. When items go on sale, purchase extra items and set some aside to use later in the school year. I like to purchase extra’s for the next school year as well.

 

Use coupons and cashback apps

Save extra cash by using paper coupons, or online coupons. If clipping coupons isn’t your thing, maximize your savings by using cashback apps like Ibotta.

This back to school season, Ibotta is excited to be giving away FREE items to send kids back to school the right way. That’s right – 100% cash back on a variety of school snacks and supplies. Ibotta has teamed up with some of our favorite brands to celebrate the new school year.

When you download the Ibotta app or browser extension, get 100% cash back on back-to-school essentials to start your kid’s year off right with full backpacks and lunchboxes!

How Ibotta’s Back to School Free-for-All works:
  1. Download Ibotta to start earning cash back on things you buy every day. Get the app on your phone or the browser extension for your computer (better yet: both!).
  2. Choose where you want to shop for school supplies: Walmart Pickup & Delivery, Target Online, HEB Online, Instacart, or Shipt.
  3. Link your retailer account, then add back to school offers to your list (from the browser extension window).
  4. Shop and check out like you always do. You’ll get your 100% cash back 24 hours after your grocery order is picked up or delivered!

Using apps will give you cash-back just for signing up and shopping! Rakuten and Ibotta are a couple of my favorite apps to use, and the cash back savings really add up.

 

Buy generics or store brands

Swap those expensive brand names for generic or store brand products whenever possible. Generic doesn’t automatically mean less quality. The quality of store brands is typically as good as brand name products, and you can save several coins.

 

Recycle those clothes

What child doesn’t want new clothes when they head back to school? But before spending money on an all-new wardrobe, take inventory of what’s in your child’s closet. If clothes from last school year fit comfortably, they can wear those at the start of the school year.

Remember that prices typically go down around September, so you may want to put off shopping for new clothes until then. Simply purchase one or two outfits, along with accessories for your kids to wear when school starts.

Another way to save is to check out your local thrift stores and consignment shops. You can often find good quality clothing at really low prices.

Lastly, recycle clothing among siblings. If one child has outgrown certain items, simply pass them down to the younger ones.

 

Take advantage of tax-free weekend

If your state participates, take advantage of the tax-free weekend for your back to school shopping. Below is a list of tax free days by state, along with the items that you are allowed to purchase.

  • Alabama: July 16-18, 2021 (clothing, computers, school supplies, and books)
  • Arkansas: August 7-8, 2021 (clothing and accessories, electronic devices, school supplies, art supplies, and instructional books)
  • Connecticut: August 15-21, 2021 (clothing and footwear)
  • Florida: July 31-August 9, 2021 (clothing and accessories, footwear, school supplies, and computers)
  • Iowa: August 6-7, 2021 (clothing)
  • Maryland: August 8-14, 2021 (clothing, footwear, and energy star products)
  • Massachusetts: August 14-15 2021 (most purchases under $2,500)
  • Mississippi: July 30-31, 2021 (clothing, footwear, and school supplies)
  • Missouri: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, computers, and energy star products)
  • New Mexico: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, computers, computer equipment, and school supplies)
  • Ohio: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing and school supplies)
  • Oklahoma: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing and footwear)
  • South Carolina: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
  • Tennessee: July 30- August 1, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, computers, food, food ingredients, and prepared food)
  • Texas: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, backpacks, and school supplies)
  • Virginia: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, and energy star products)

 

With some or all of the tips that I’ve outlined above, I’m sure you’ll find a few ways to save and cut down on your back to school shopping bill.

Wishing you and your family all the best this school year!

 

15 Ways To Enjoy A Staycation In Your Hometown

Tamar Braxton

Are you looking to escape the boredom of everyday life? Do you want to take the family on a vacation, yet don’t have the finances to actually go out of town? Or maybe you want to go on vacation, but you’re still not quite ready to travel due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Well, instead of planning an out of town vacation, why not opt for a staycation.  Friends, you don’t have to travel across the globe to enjoy a great time with your family.

There are plenty of things to do in your very own neighborhood or nearest big city. With a little bit of creativity, you and the family can become tourists in your hometown.

A staycation will allow you to save money, sleep in your own bed, and spend quality time with your family or friends all while having fun.

 

Set The Ground Rules

The purpose of a staycation is to make it feel like an actual family getaway, without leaving the comfort of your own home.Thus, to make sure the whole family is on the same page, it is good to start with some ground rules that each and every family member agrees upon.

First, you’ll want to start by setting an actual vacation start and end date. Then you should set a few guidelines for what your family may and may not do during your “vacation.” You could put rules in place such as:

No smartphones, no television, no video games, no checking emails, no housework (all the moms rejoice) – you get where I’m going. The only thing your family should be focused on at this time is plain old FUN!

Be sure to set aside funds for eating out, and the different activities that you plan to enjoy.

Here are several ideas to help get you started with planning a staycation for you and your family.

Find A Local Beach

You don’t have to be in the Caribbean to enjoy the beach. Visit a local beach in your area and become “beach bums” for a day.

15 Ways To Enjoy A Staycation In Your Hometown

 

Visit A Nearby National Park

National parks offer a variety of family-friendly activities to choose from. Most park fees are nominal, but you can also check out this page to find free entrance days.

Enjoy Your Local Theater

Check your local newspaper or theater website to see what plays, musicals, or family-friendly comedy shows will be playing during your planned staycation, then book your tickets accordingly. 

Take A Virtual Museum Tour

Several museums throughout the country and the world offer “virtual” tours. There are several that you can choose from, including the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the Boston Children’s Museum, or even visit the Louvre in Paris. 

Enjoy A Day At The Amusement Park

Enjoy a fun-filled day of rides at a nearby amusement park. Check out this list to find an amusement park in your own state or town.

15 Ways To Enjoy A Staycation In Your Hometown

 

Check Out The Local Library

Most libraries have family-friendly events and activities happening every weekend. I even got my son his very first library card this past summer. Check your local library’s website for details. 

Pay A Visit To The Children’s Museum

A Children’s Museum is definitely in order if you have younger kids. This is one of my son’s favorite places to visit. Most have a variety of fun and interactive activities that will keep you busy the whole day.

Check out the Association of Children’s Museums website to find one in your area. 

Visit the Zoo or Aquarium

Are you an animal lover? Why not pack up a lunch and spend the day at the zoo or enjoy the aquarium with the fam.

Check out the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to find a zoo or aquarium in your area, then be sure to also check what special programs your zoo has available. 

Enjoy A Music Fest

Most cities have music festivals during the summer months. Look up music festivals in your area and enjoy a fabulous performance from some of your favorite headliners.

 

Outdoor Concert Gif

Play In The Water

Spend the day at a local pool or splash pad. This is actually one of my family’s favorites. If you let him, my kiddo would spend the entire day at the splash pad.

You can also turn on the sprinklers in the backyard and have a family water day at home. 

 

Go Bowling

Enjoy a game of bowling with your kids. If your kiddos are small, try bumper bowling.

Many bowling alleys around the country even participate in a free bowling program that allows kids to bowl free and parents to join them for just a few dollars more.

You could even invite your neighbor’s or a few close friends and make it a competition. Your family bowls against theirs. The winner receives a homemade trophy.

15 Ways To Enjoy A Staycation In Your Hometown

 

Camp In Your Own Backyard

Why not enjoy the great outdoors in your own backyard? Set up a tent and sleeping bags, light the fire pit (or use the grill) to cook hot dogs and s’mores, and take turns telling funny or scary stories. 

Go Paddleboarding Or Canoeing

If there is a river or lake near you, chances are pretty good there is also a paddleboard or canoe rental facility nearby as well. Both are a fun way for you and the family to enjoy the water. 

Play Outside

Fly a kite, take a leisurely walk, go for a bike ride, or how about a nice hike. Head to your local park (most state and national parks have a few walking, hiking, or biking trails to choose from). Be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for everyone.

Break Out The Board Games

A staycation is a perfect time to play a few of those board games you remember from childhood! Whip up several snacks, and spend the afternoon playing all of your favorite games.

Black Family Enjoying Outdoors
Image Via Freepik

The goal of a staycation is to relax and decompress all while having fun. For a lot of people – especially those of us who are moms, the hardest part of trying to “relax” at home is letting go of our everyday obligations.

Give up the chores for a week, and instead kick back, relax, and enjoy some quality time with your family. Doing so will allow you to create memories that you and your loved ones will cherish for a lifetime.

 

 

7 Fun And Festive Fall Crafts For Kids

It’s that time of year friends.

Celebrate the season by making one of these fun fall crafts with your kids. I’ve rounded up seven of our favorite arts and crafts that I’m sure you and your kids will enjoy. 

Happy crafting!

 

Craft Supplies Laid Out On Table

 

Leaf Painting

Source:  Growing A Jeweled Rose

Turn fallen leaves into beautiful works of art with this paint craft.

Painted Leaves

 

 

Pumpkin Craft

Source:  Simple Everyday Mom

Welcome the season with this cute and easy pumpkin craft for preschoolers.

Pumpkin Craft

 

 

 

Fall Windsock

Source: I Heart Crafty Things

Celebrate the beautiful colors of the fall season with this simple fall windsock craft.

 

Sunflower Suncatcher

Source:  Fantastic Fun and Learning

These sunflowers are perfect for hanging in the kitchen window to catch the morning sun.

Sunflower Sun Catcher

 

 

Autumn Handprint Tree

Source:  Arty Crafty Kids

Explore simple color-mixing techniques within a seasonal theme with this Autumn Handprint Tree art project.

 

Autumn Handprint Tree

 

 

Puffy Paint Caramel Apples

Source: I Heart Arts N Crafts

Who doesn’t love caramel apples? Your kiddos will have fun making this puffy paint craft. 

 

Puffy Paint Caramel Apple

 

 

Paper Plate Scarecrow

Source: No Time For Flashcards

Gather up some materials with various textures, along with a plain old paper plate and you get this adorable scarecrow.

 

Paper Plate Scarecrow

 

Happy crafting!

Twelve Fun Activities To Enjoy With Your Family During Quarantine

Having to quarantine and socially distance ourselves during this coronavirus pandemic is by no means fun for any of us – kids and parents alike.

While we’re normally able to come and go as we please, we are now having to steer clear of groups and outdoor activities such as going to parks, shopping malls and any other extracurricular activities.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or you’re working from home now, there are plenty of ways to keep the entire family from going stir-crazy while having to remain indoors.

Here are twelve activities that are sure to help keep your kids entertained, and your sanity intact while in quarantine, and socially distancing yourselves. 

 

Let The Fun Begin

 

1. Fly Paper Airplanes

It’s super easy to make paper aircrafts. Learn how to make the perfect airplane with this tutorial. Have some friendly competition and see who can fly their plane the farthest. You can also create a cool landing strip for your airplanes. 

 

2. Scavenger Hunts

This is a game that can be done either indoors or outdoors in the backyard. If you have younger kids, keep it simple, and have them search for items that are based on color, or basic shapes.

For the older kids, items can be collected based on letters of the alphabet, animals or insects and even riddles. 

 

3. Host A Family Movie Night

This is a great time for you to enjoy some of your favorite films as a family. So that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy their favorite movie, allow one family member to choose a movie each evening, until everyone has had a turn. 

 

4. Give Each Other Makeovers

Take turns giving each other makeovers. Pull out all of your old makeup, nail polishes, and wigs, and see who can come up with the most creative style. Don’t forget to snap a few photos to have as a keepsake! 

 

5. Have An Indoor Picnic

Push back the couch, spread out a comfy blanket and enjoy lunch from the comfort of your living room. Allow the kids to choose the menu and invite them to help with meal prep. 

 

6. Read Out Loud

This is a favorite in my household. My son loves story time. As a matter of fact, I think most kids enjoy being read to. Gather up some of your kiddos favorite books, snuggle up on the couch together, and take turns reading a page. 

 

Fun Family Activities Pinterest Pin

 

7. Build A Fort

Get creative when helping your child build a fort. You can keep it simple with just a few pillows and blankets or make it a little more extravagant by adding different fabrics and some lights. Don’t forget to stock the fort with several books, toys and lots of snacks. 

 

8. Enjoy Outdoors

Social distancing away from groups is important but you and your family can still spend time playing in the backyard. We can all benefit from some daily fresh air. Going for a walk has been one of my family’s favorite activities.

You can also roller blade or go biking around the neighborhood  as a way to help break up the monotony of time spent indoors. 

 

9. Create Your Own Masterpiece

Pull out all of your craft supplies – markers, glue, construction paper, paints, feathers, buttons and whatever other odds and ends you have lying around, and let the kids go to town. When their masterpieces have dried, be sure to display them in a prominent place around the house. 

 

10. Dance

This is a super fun way for kids to burn off excess energy, and parents to burn some excess calories. Crank up your kids’ favorite songs and everybody bust a move. 

 

11. Break Out The Board Games

Board games are a great way to bring the whole family together – young and old. Whether classics like Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, Scrabble or Clue, a great time is sure to be had by all.

You could even add a few puzzles to the mix. Puzzles are a great way for the family to problem solve, and work together, all while creating lasting memories. 

 

12. Bake Together

Who doesn’t enjoy a sweet treat? Round up the kids, and whip up some of your favorite baked goods. How about turning it into a dessert bar. Just set out the toppings – frosting, sprinkles, M&Ms, gummy bears, nuts, you name it, and let the kids (and parents) pile on their favorites.

 

Beautiful Black Family At Home

 

 

Perhaps the most important thing of all is to actually enjoy this time at home with your family. Our everyday lives can be filled with numerous distractions, so take some time to simply relax and enjoy time spent with those you love most. And don’t forget to wash your hands! 

How are you and your family spending your days while quarantined?

 

Feed Your Child’s Creativity With A Monthly Subscription Box

As a child, I loved getting surprises in the mail. I’m sure your child would too. Why not surprise them with something that’s both fun and educational. Gift them their very own subscription box from Kiwi Co.

Kiwi makes STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning for your child accessible, engaging, and fun.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission if you order using my link.  Read my full disclosure here.


What Is Kiwi Co

Kiwi Co is a monthly subscription service that offers educational projects, crafts, and activities for kids using different themes.

KiwiCo is all about celebrating a child’s natural creativity and curiosity.

Each of their boxes includes all of the materials needed to make a fun hands-on project with your child.

Kiwi Co Doodle Crate

 

About Kiwi Co Boxes

Suggested Age Range: 0 to 16+

Cost: Starts at $19.95 per month, with free shipping. If necessary, you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Order: Click here to order NOW.

 Kiwi Crate – Inspiring Kids to Become Scientist, Artists, Creators, and Makers

A Kiwi Co subscription box allows kids to create all while having fun. Each box comes filled with the supplies and directions to help kids create on their own. You’ll love the learning resources and activities that are available in each crate!

There are different packages available for each age group:

Panda Crate – Explore and Discover (Ages 0 – 2)
Koala Crate – Play and Learn (Ages 2 – 4)
Kiwi Crate – Art, Science & More (Ages 5 – 8)
Atlas Crate – Geography & Culture (Ages 6 – 11)
Doodle Crate – Art & Design (Ages 9 – 16+)
Tinker Crate – Science & Engineering (Ages 9 – 16+)
Eureka Crate – Engineering & Design (Ages 14 – 104)

All of the boxes from Kiwi Co are designed by experts, and tested by kids. Subscriptions are available monthly, or in three months, six months and twelve months increments.

Have you tried Kiwi Co?  What is your child’s favorite crate?

50 Fun Fall Activities For You And Your Family To Enjoy

Fall is my favorite time of year. I say that because there are an endless amount of cozy fall activities that my family and I get to enjoy doing.


Whether you choose to snuggle up on the couch with your favorite hot drink, while binge-watching television shows or spending an evening outside cheering for your favorite team at a local football game, there are plenty of things that you all can enjoy together.

To give you some ideas, I’ve created this list of fall activities. How many of these fun-filled fall activities will you and your loved ones cross off before winter hits?

50 FUN FALL ACTIVITIES FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO ENJOY
Blue Ridge Mountains

 

Fun Fall Activities

Go camping.
Visit an apple orchard, and pick apples.
Have an apple cider “tea” party.
Make peanut butter Rice Krispies treats.
Host a neighborhood chili cook-off.
Tell ghost stories.
Jump in a pile of leaves.
Make donuts.
Visit a national park.
Go to a football game.
Go on a color walk, and gather outside “treasures” in the colors of fall.
Visit a sunflower farm.
Make fall decorations.
Take family photos in the backyard.
Go on a hayride.
Carve pumpkins.
Take a knitting class.
Try geocaching.
Go canoeing or kayaking.
Make crockpot applesauce.

Apple Orchard

Plant your favorite bulbs for the spring.
Attend a fall festival.
Make your favorite soups.
Make your own Halloween costumes.
Bake your favorite fall treats.
Go roaming through a pumpkin patch.
Take a family bike ride.
Play hide-and-seek with glow sticks.
Navigate a corn maze.
Host a bonfire, and invite all the neighbors.
Collect pine cones and create a beautiful fall centerpiece.
Go on a scenic drive and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

Autumn In The Mountains

Make Halloween cards.
Go horseback riding.
Make caramel apples.
Run in a 5K race.
Play your favorite family board games.
Visit a local farm.
Enjoy a picnic in the park.
Make pinecone bird feeders.
Rake up leaves in the yard.
Make hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Spend the day watching classic fall movies.
Make s’mores outside by the firepit.
Visit the zoo.
Collect and identify leaves.
Rearrange your closet with your fall wardrobe.
Create a family thankfulness tree.
Spend the day antiquing.
Bake pumpkin bread.
Lay a blanket in your backyard and gaze at the stars.

What are some of your family’s favorite fall activities?

Ten Clever Mom Hacks To Help Simplify Your Back-to-School Routine

The start of a new school year is often stressful for both parents and kids. But there are ways that you can alleviate some of those stresses.

Now that you’ve completed all of the back-to-school shopping, how about implementing a few mom hacks to help make your mornings a little less chaotic.

Trust me, getting​ ​your back to school routine in order ​is​ ​by no means easy, but I believe these clever hacks can certainly help to smooth the transition.


Wake up before everyone else does

I know it can be hard to crawl out of bed in the mornings, but taking a few moments to enjoy some quiet time before everyone else wakes up will do wonders for your day.

Go ahead and enjoy your coffee in peace, look over your calendar, or maybe get a quick shower. Just remember that those few minutes belong to you.

 

Simplify your breakfast routine

Choose breakfast items that are quick and easy. Keep a bowl of fruit handy. Cereal is also a good choice. Try whipping up a batch of pancakes or even a breakfast casserole on the weekend and freeze it to have later in the week.

And by choosing a meal that is quick, doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy.  Try one of these healthy breakfast recipes. 

 

Prepare your kids wardrobe for the week

I try to iron my son’s clothes for the week on Saturday nights (or Sunday’s). I typically will iron a week’s worth of clothes and hang them on the back of his closet door. That way he can help choose what he wants to wear each day.

Allow your kid’s to help pick out their clothes for the week. Iron each piece and either hang them or fold them neatly and place in a drawer so that they are easily accessible.

 

Wash a load of clothes daily

Am I the only one who hates doing laundry? To avoid massive loads of laundry at the end of the week, toss in a load every day. That way you can wash, fold and put away a basket each day.

Menu plan

Planning our meals for the week is one of the biggest time savers for me. I mean, who wants to spend time every day trying to decide what’s for dinner? I typically take a little time on Thursday’s to write out my menu for the next week as well as my shopping list. You could also menu plan for the entire month if that works better for you.

I love quick and easy meals. I typically opt for casseroles or crockpot meals because they are simple to prepare, and I can just toss the ingredients into a crockpot or baking dish and relax while it cooks.

Create a backpack zone

Give your kids a defined space to hang up their backpacks, coats and other items when they walk through the door. This way no one is complaining that they can’t find their backpack when it’s time to head out the door in the morning.

Add a family command station

We have a centralized area in our home where we keep a family calendar, home notebook, bills, and important papers.

This area helps to keep everyone organized. We are able to keep up with keys, Dr.’s appointments, important school dates, homework and even charge our phones.

Need ideas for a command station? Read this post by The Turquoise Home.

 

Keep after-school snacks readily available

If your kiddo is anything like mine, they are hungry as soon as they walk through the door from school.

I keep a variety of snack choices ready in a basket in the pantry. There is also a snack tub in the fridge with fruit cups and apple slices (his favorites). You can add yogurt cups or any other type of fruit that your kids may like.

Prepare lunches the night before

If you send your child’s lunch to school like I do, you’ll save so much time by assembling everything the night before. Prepare sandwiches, fruit or veggies and snacks along with a drink choice and you’re all set.

The next morning, your child can just grab their lunchbox and they are ready to go.

Tidy up daily

Take a few minutes each day to put items back where they belong. Clean the kitchen as you cook. Wipe the bathroom sink and toilet with disinfectant wipes daily, and do a major clean twice a week.

At one point in time, I spent my entire weekend cleaning.  Not anymore!  I learned that by tidying up daily, I lighten my load for the weekend. That leaves me with more time to spend with my family.

Share some of your favorite hacks for a simplified back-to-school routine.

 

Five Ways You Can Teach Your Special Needs Child To Be Independent

Raising a child that has special needs can be, and often is a lot of work. Children with special needs learn differently from typical children. And because of this, we as parents tend to be a bit overprotective in an effort to help ease our child’s burden.

Often times, it will seem easier for us to perform everyday tasks for our children simply because it takes less time (such as when you’re preparing for school in the mornings). But by doing everything for them, we wind up doing more harm than good to our kids.

As a special needs parent, you have to learn to let your child take over the reins so that they can learn to be more self-sufficient. It’s extremely important to start building independence when they are younger so that they will be equipped for adulthood.

Just because a child has a disability does not mean that they can’t learn to do things on their own. You can help your child gain the confidence that he or she needs by trying the following tips.


Young Black Boy Putting Away Laundry

 

Allow them to make their own choices

One easy way to start building independence is by giving your child choices. You can apply this to different scenarios throughout the day. Start by offering them choices at mealtimes. I may offer my son a choice between pizza or chicken for dinner.  And pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast.


You can also have them help pick out their own clothes.  Ask what color shirt or pants they would like to wear to school. Or even what program they would like to watch on television or what game they’d like to play on the Ipad.

My son has a tendency to choose the same things over and over (whether food, TV shows or games), so I will sometimes take his favorite from the list of choices just to add a little variety here and there.

Allow your child the opportunity to make their own choices as much as possible.

 

 

Avoid the urge to do things for them

Trust me, I know that this can be difficult. But if your child is capable of doing certain things themselves such as showering on their own, brushing their teeth, or getting dressed by themselves, then, by all means, let them do it.

You may have to get up a little earlier in the mornings so that you’re not late for work or school – which is what I do, but it is so worth it.


It may seem easier for you to do things for them, but it really doesn’t help them in the long run. They may not master a task in the beginning, but continue to work with them until they’ve perfected it.

 

Challenge your child

Resist the urge to make everything easy for your child. Give them activities that will provide a challenge for them every now and then. That way they will learn that by working hard and putting forth some effort, they can achieve a goal.

If they struggle with a task, in the beginning, make some minor adjustments so that it fits their skill level. Continue making adjustments as needed in order to help build their independence.

It is so worth it to see the pride in their eyes (and yours)  when they master a task.

 

Young Black Boy On Playground Equipment

 

Work with your child’s instructors

Schedule an IEP meeting with your child’s teacher or sit down with their therapist so that you can talk about ways the two of you can work together to help foster your child’s independence.

I like to incorporate a lot of the things that are covered at school into my son’s activities at home.  It helps him to master new skills a lot quicker when he’s putting them into practice both at home and at school.

When you communicate learning strategies openly and freely, it helps to ensure that all parties involved are on the same page.

 

Learn to let go

The road to independence for children with special needs is often more challenging than it is for their peers. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We just have to be willing to let go and allow our children to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.

It took me a while to master this one. My son can do so much more than what I often allow him to do. As they say – old habits die hard. I am learning more and more each day to let go and allow him to spread his wings and soar. I know that it can be hard watching your child stumble, but how will they know what they can accomplish if we don’t allow them the opportunity?

The earlier we start to foster independence, the easier it will be for our kids to learn to stand on their own two feet.

How do you encourage independence in your child?

Five Small Ways You Can Improve Your Marriage


The “honeymoon” phase in any marriage isn’t going to last a lifetime. Things between you and your spouse may suddenly seem “different” but let’s face it, relationships change. Relationships change because as individuals, we are constantly changing.

While marriage is a wonderful part of life, it’s not always an easy one. Factor in differences in personalities, those little annoying habits that you once thought were so cute, caring for your children, paying the mortgage, health issues, (the list could go on) and you start wondering “what did I get myself into?”

Just know that it’s normal for any relationship to evolve over time. As I stated earlier, our relationships change because we as individuals change. Your marriage doesn’t have to suffer as a result of that process though.

Let me tell you something, relationships can and do work. You just have to be willing to put forth the time and effort that it takes to make it work.

If you’ve noticed that things are a bit off with you and your sweetie lately, or if you seem to be having arguments over the smallest of things, reconnect and improve your marriage by incorporating these strategies into your daily lives.


Extend Forgiveness

If you have been harboring unforgiveness for something that happened last year, or last week for that matter, let it go! It becomes hard to move forward in your relationship when one (or both) people are stuck in the past.

Identify those things that you need to let go of. After that make sure that you don’t bring them up again. Oooooh, chile, trust me – It! Is! Hard! I know because I was the queen of bringing up past hurt and throwing it back in my husband’s face.

But if you truly want things to progress in your marriage, you’ve got to be willing to completely forgive so that you can move forward. I mean, we all make mistakes.

Communicate Effectively

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Did I mention communicate?

When it comes to having a good marriage, effective communication is a must. Not only do you have to learn how to communicate your expectations and desires so that your spouse will have a chance at fulfilling them, but you have to learn how to communicate in a way that doesn’t lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Learn to be a good listener as well. Oftentimes we aren’t listening to understand what our partner is trying to communicate to us, we are simply listening so that we can give a response. Be an active listener so that you can actually hear their heart and understand what it is they are trying to get across to you.

This is something that may take a little time, especially if the two of you are not good at communicating with one another. But as you intentionally practice it, things will get better over time.

Be Affectionate

Get into the habit of showing your mate affection every day. And I am not just talking about affection inside of the bedroom. Do simple things like greeting one another with a kiss. Give each other a hug and kiss before leaving for work each day. Hold hands or cuddle while you are watching television.

But don’t let your affection become robot-like. Instead of hurried kisses, take the time to relish the moment and look into each other’s eyes when being affectionate. According to research recently published by Kory Floyd, author and associate professor of Arizona State University’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, affection can lower blood sugar levels, and lower the risk of depression and stress.

Enjoy Activities Together

Do something regularly that bonds the two of you. For instance, try waking up early so that you can enjoy your morning coffee together, spend 15 minutes chatting before going to sleep at night, or how about setting aside your Fridays nights for each other.

I like to make it a point to enjoy some of the things that my husband loves. For instance, I am not particularly fond of watching boring sci-fi movies – yes, I said boring. But sci-fi is something that he loves, and so I indulge him. I’ll fix us a huge bowl of popcorn along with some drinks and we’ll enjoy an evening of sci-fi.

By having a “couples ritual”, you are making an active decision to create space in your life just for your spouse. After all, your relationship with your spouse is one of the most important you’ll ever have.

Show Your Appreciation

Go out of your way to show your spouse how much you appreciate them. Instead of focusing on all of the things your spouse does wrong, be intentional about acknowledging the things he or she does right. A simple “honey, thank you for taking out the trash this morning” or midday phone call saying “I was just thinking of you” can go a long way in making a person feel loved.

We as human beings need to feel validated or appreciated. When that validation doesn’t occur, people tend to look for it elsewhere. Do your part in making sure to acknowledge and appreciate them every time you have the chance.

I am not a relationship expert, but my husband and I make it a point to practice these tips daily. Are there times when we mess up – yes! But we start all over again, and our marriage has been so much better because of it.

Summer Art And Craft Ideas For Kids

 

Summer break is in full effect! When school is out, one of my favorite things to do with my son is crafts. He absolutely loves making things with his hands.

Each summer I try to come up with fun crafts and other activities that I think he will enjoy.

I have rounded up ten crafts that are perfect for rainy days, when the kids get bored, or simply when they want to be inside out of the heat. I’m sure your kiddos will enjoy these activities as much as mine does.
 

Sponge Sailboat Craft

These sailboats are not only fun to make, but they are also extremely fun to play with.


Sponge Sailboat Kids Craft

 

Paper Plate Butterflies

This butterfly craft is simple and easy and perfect for any age!


Paper Plate Butterflies

 

Homemade Wind Chimes

The perfect craft for those who love to recycle.


Homemade Wind Chimes Craft

 

Squirt Gun Painting

A cool art experience for kids.


Painting With Squirt Gun Arts and Crafts

Paper Plate Frisbee

Simple, easy and loads of fun.


Outdoor Paper Plate Frisbee

Stained Glass Jars

The perfect place for those hand-picked flowers.


Summer Art And Craft Ideas For Kids Glass Jars

Sun Catcher

Kids will enjoy hanging this in their rooms.


Sun Catcher Craft Idea

 

Cool Kaleidoscope

Super cool science toy.
Summer Art And Craft Ideas For Kids

 

Washer Necklaces

Simple, yet fun jewelry that kids will enjoy wearing.


DIY Washer Necklaces

 

CD Wind Spinners

Turn your old CDs into art.


CD Wind Spinners Craft Activity

 

These are some seriously cool crafts, huh? Which ones did your kids enjoy the most?

Keeping Kids Safe During Summer

Summer is upon us, and the kid’s (adults too) are ready for some outdoor fun!  Whether we spend it swimming in the pool, riding our bikes, playing in the backyard, or hiking in the woods, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

We as parents should be mindful of the potential dangers during the summer months. Here are a few things to remember when it comes to summer safety.

 

 

Practice Water Safety

Adult supervision is one of the most important water safety rules. Parents should always be focused on their children 100% of the time. Please be mindful of the fact that children can drown in just one inch of water.
According to the CDC, drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.

  • Be sure your child wears a water safety vest at all times.
  • Backyard pools and spas should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence that is at least five feet high, with gates that close and latch automatically.
  • While swimming, make sure that an adult is within an arm’s length of the child being watched.
  • Learn infant and child CPR, and keep rescue equipment, a phone and any emergency numbers near the pool.

 

Little Black Boy Floating In Pool With Goggles

 

Beat the Heat

 

Prolonged exposure to hot temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke.  By taking the proper precautionary measures, most heat-related illnesses can be avoided.

  • Limit outdoor activities during mid-day sun hours (10 am – 4 pm).
  • Make sure that your child is well hydrated when playing outdoors. Keep water on hand at all times. Drink before, during and after being out in the heat.
  • Always wear sunscreen on both sunny and cloudy days. Choose products with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15 (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics).
  • Apply sunscreen liberally 30 minutes before going out into the sun and reapply every two hours – sooner if swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, including a hat and sunglasses.
  • Look for shade whenever possible, and take inside breaks so that you can cool down.

 

Helmet Safety

Bike helmets reduce head injuries by 85 percent and brain injury by 88 percent.  A helmet is the most important device available that can reduce head injury and death from a bicycle crash, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet whenever they are riding on any type of wheels.  This includes bicycles, rollerblades, roller skates, skateboards, and scooters.
  • Be sure that the helmet is the proper fit. Helmets protect your child from serious injury and can be life-saving.

 

Prevent Playground Injuries

Emergency departments in the US treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries every year.

Parents can take actions to help prevent injuries on playground equipment. Make sure that your backyard play equipment is safe and the play areas at your local parks or playgrounds.

  • Actively supervise your children to make sure they are safe at all times.
  • Make sure kids are properly dressed and wearing shoes at all times.
  • Make sure that the surfaces under playground equipment are soft and well-maintained.

 

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Poison Sumac

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can cause a severe skin rash when touched.

  • When hiking or camping outdoors, avoid bushy, overgrown areas where these plants tend to grow.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks to protect from possible exposure to these plants.
  • You can learn to recognize the visual differences in these plants here.

 

Insect Bites

Protect you and your kids from insect bites by using an effective insect repellent. When we spend time in our backyard, I always have citronella candles burning to keep mosquitoes away. I also use bug repellent to keep those and other pesky critters away.

Keep in mind that most insect repellents are made with DEET, an effective insecticide that is toxic or even potentially deadly if swallowed. If you do use a product containing DEET, it is important not to apply the product to a child’s hands or face to avoid possible ingestion.

It is also important to shower or bathe before bed to remove all of the product so that you avoid overexposure to the chemical.  If you prefer an all natural version of insect repellent, Wellness Mama has a great recipe on her blog.

If you spend any time in the woods or areas that are prone to ticks, keep these safety measures in mind:

  • Always wear protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants that are tucked into socks).
  • Wear some form of tick repellent.
  • Perform a tick check on your children daily.

 

Final Thoughts
 

Every family should have a first aid kit at home that is well stocked and easily accessible.  It’s also helpful to keep a first aid kit in the car and to take one on road trips. I keep a small one in the glove box and a larger one in our trunk.

Be sure to keep a list of emergency numbers that include 911, your family’s doctor, the dentist’s number, poison control, and any other important phone numbers, such as close relatives.

We all want to enjoy the warm weather, let’s just be sure that we stay safe as well.

Have a great summer!

 

 

A Work At Home Mom Morning Routine That Will Help Transform Your Days

As a work at home mom, are your mornings typically chaotic? Does it seem as if you never get as much accomplished as you’d like to each day? Do you often forget to complete specific tasks? Maybe there are days when you feel completely overwhelmed. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you could certainly benefit from a morning routine.

Getting the morning off to a positive start determines what type of workday you’ll have. It is definitely worth it to put forth the extra effort to ensure that your morning goes as smoothly as possible.

If you are one who feels that starting and sticking to a daily morning routine is a complicated process, honestly, that’s not the case. You actually get more accomplished, and without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. Best of all, your days will flow so much smoother.

Once you develop a plan and put it into practice each day, it will soon become a habit. The key is that you have to practice it daily. Another important point is that you want to create a routine that works for YOU. By creating a daily routine for yourself, and sticking to it, your level of productivity will definitely increase.

Here’s a sample of my morning routine that you can tailor to fit your specific needs.

WAKE UP EARLY

Start getting up about 30 or 45 minutes earlier than you normally do. I like to get up before my son so that I have some time to myself before having to go into mommy mode.

Upon waking, take a few moments to stretch your body. Stretching always helps me to fully wake up, and feel as if I am ready to face the day.

I like to open my blinds first thing in the morning so that the natural light flows in. I then make my bed and head to the kitchen for a glass of water and a cup of coffee.

TAKE TIME FOR PRAYER/DEVOTION

Starting your day with prayer enables you to focus your attention on God and His purpose and plan for the day ahead. If you have a devotional, you can read the devotion for that particular day. I like to have my cup of coffee (or tea) as I read my bible and devotional.

 

JOURNAL

After I finish my daily devotion, I spend about 10 minutes journaling. Some days I follow a journaling prompt, but there are times when I feel a need to just let whatever it is that’s on my mind flow onto the pages. I find that writing in my journal is very therapeutic.

 

GO OVER YOUR TO-DO LIST

Take a quick glance at your tasks and the important “to-do” items in your calendar so that you are familiar with the tasks that you need to get accomplished for that day. Make any necessary adjustments to your schedule if needed.

I also take a few minutes to scan my email to see if I have received any important messages from the previous evening.

EXERCISE

We all know that exercise is important to good health. We should aim for at least 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day. I know some people prefer to work out in the evenings which is perfectly fine.

If you don’t have a gym membership, go for a quick walk through your neighborhood. You can also watch an exercise DVD or even YouTube videos from the comfort of your home. I personally love this walking video by Leslie Sansone that’s on YouTube.

PREPARE BREAKFAST

Make breakfast for yourself and your family members. Be sure to clean up as you go. Afterward, load the dishwasher, wipe down stovetop, counters, and sink. If you take just a few moments each day to clean as you go, you can avoid the unnecessary clutter, and sink full of dirty dishes.

You can also prepare breakfast items the night before and have all of your non-perishable items laid out so that you are not rushed in the morning. It is also a good idea to prepare lunches the night before.

If your kids are old enough, you can have them help you with this task.

GET DRESSED

The last thing that I do is take a quick shower and dress. I then make sure that my son is dressed so that we can head to school.

START YOUR DAY

On school days, I drop my son off and if I have any errands, I try to get them all done after I drop him off at school. I then head home to start my workday.

If you have smaller kids at home, you can set them up with activities, or have them watch cartoons for an hour or two while you get some work done.

Make sure that you factor activities for your kids into your day so that they are busy while you are working.

PIN It!

 

CONCLUSION

It is actually a good idea to prepare as much as you can for the next day each evening. Place all of the items that you will need for the day in a central location (purse, keys, jacket, kids book bags, homework assignments, etc).

It’s also a great idea to lay out your wardrobe the night before. I personally do this right down to my underwear. I cannot tell you the number of times in years past that I have wasted precious time by standing in my closet trying to figure out what I was going to wear to work that morning.

Even though I am a WAHM now, I still lay out my wardrobe the night before. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s typically only leggings and a tee, but hey, it saves me precious time each morning by having my clothes already laid out.

When you establish a daily morning routine for you and your family, you create an environment of consistency. By establishing consistency, each person is fully aware of his/her role or responsibility.

A good morning routine will help to alleviate those feelings of overwhelm so that your days are calm and less stressful. It has definitely made a difference in my everyday life. But remember that the key to a successful routine is actually finding one that works for you and sticking to it.

Do you have a morning routine in place?

The Importance Of Date Night With Your Spouse

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Having a regular date night with your spouse helps to your relationship on track. Whether you are newlyweds or have been married for a number of years, regular dates are an important part of any romantic relationship. All healthy relationships require that you spend quality time together talking, listening, and simply enjoying life together.

Now, that’s not to say that all of the other little moments you and your spouse share together aren’t just as important – but a little time to focus on your relationship will only help to strengthen those experiences.

If you or your spouse happen to work long hours, or once you factor kids into the equation, it’s easy for dates to become few and far between. But purposely setting aside some alone time just for you and your spouse to enjoy together can play a huge part in ensuring that your marriage stays healthy and strong. It has certainly played a huge part in the health of my marriage, and here’s why…

Spending time alone with your spouse will help to keep that spark burning, and help remind you of why you fell for one another in the beginning.

It keeps the romance alive

Spending time alone with your spouse will help to keep that spark burning, and help remind you of why the two of you fell for one another in the beginning.

Shows your spouse that they are a priority to you

Setting aside time specifically for your spouse lets them know that they are a priority in your life. Date night says to them “you are special to me, and you are worth my time.”

It always makes me feel extra special when my husband purposely sets aside time in his schedule for the two of us to spend together.

Keeps communication open

There are so many distractions in our everyday lives that can hinder our communication. Date night gives us the opportunity to have honest conversations with our spouses.

Not only that, but you also get the opportunity to learn something new about your spouse. I once heard a pastor say that you should learn something new about your spouse regularly.

By communicating with your spouse one on one, with no distractions, you get to learn new things about each other.

It breaks the monotony

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the day to day routine of things – work, bills, kids, etc. Dating helps keep you both engaged and it gives you something else to look forward to.

Regular dates will break the routine that all married couples tend to fall into. It will also breathe new life into your marriage, and help to grow your relationship with one another.

It’s fun

Let’s face it, dating is fun! Whether you are getting dressed up for a night on the town, or if you are spending the evening at home together, date night is always a lot of fun, simply because you are spending it with the one you love.

Date night doesn’t have to be expensive either. As a matter of fact, you can plan a wonderful date at home with your spouse without having to spend a dime. Keep in mind that the quality of your date has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of money that you spend, but more so with how attentive you are to your spouse when the two of you are alone.

People who have great marriages have great marriages on purpose. Your marriage has to be your absolute top priority, meaning it comes before the kids, before your job, before your extended family, before your hobbies. Marriage comes first! If you make sure that your marriage is a priority, everything else will fall into its proper place.

Great marriages don’t just happen, they require work, and both spouses have to be intentional when it comes to doing the necessary work (which includes regular dating) to make their marriage great.

Are you willing to put in the work?