mindful living, effortless style

Image: © Suzette – www.suzette.nu edited and text added | Jippe Eating Scones | CC by 2.0

In honor of the fact that we’re giving away a cordless Dyson MC59 Motorhead vacuum cleaner worth $549, I thought I’d share two more ways for you and the family to get more organized this week.

First, up check out my post over on eHow Mom’s Channel on how I get my 4 and 5 year old to dress, feed, and otherwise prepare themselves for school in the morning (it had to be done – otherwise this “mom of 3 kids ages 5 months to 5 years” think would have surely been the end of me!).

Second, I’m hosting a second giveaway in honor of the first! (Is that weird?)

Since the Dyson MC59 Motorhead will keep your home clean, I’ve decided to help one lucky reader get organized too by giving away ALL of our printables and eBooks!

This includes: Read More

Last week I posted this potty training question on our Facebook page and it was the most commented on question we’ve had in months!

Clearly, potty training is a topic you guys are interested in

Today Alli’s here with what we’ve learned to be the 5 biggest potty training mistakes parents make. 

(Psst! – for even more help, you can get some really awesome tools – think apps that keep track of how often the kids need to go and have their favorite Disney characters call and congratulate them on their progress – over at Pull-Ups Big Kid Academy now.)

Here’s Alli…

My youngest son just turned 15 months. And the bigger he gets, the more I get that dreaded feeling…

POTTY TRAINING.

It’s looming, right around the corner.

I learned A LOT when I potty trained my first son. It wasn’t necessarily a disaster, but it definitely could have gone smoother. I made my fair share of mistakes, and promptly beat myself up for them. (Darn that Mommy guilt!)

This time around? I’m arming myself with experience, resources, and copious amounts of wine. Just kidding. (Kind of…)

With that in mind, today I’m sharing “The 5 Biggest Potty Training Mistakes” that we (including me) all tend to make. Read More

(pictured: Pretzel and Cheese BroomsticksPumpkin Pie Pop TartsCandy Corn Pudding PopsHaunted Hooting Owl PretzelsPretzel Mummy TreatsGhost Milk BottlesOreo Bat Truffles)

Halloween chatter has already started around my house, with my daughters throwing new costume ideas around every few minutes.

Our neighborhood gets really into Halloween, with costumed kids everywhere and even most adults dressed in something festive.

Naturally, I couldn’t help but notice all of the fun treat ideas starting to swirl about, and have compiled a list of 31 must-try Halloween treats for kids.  I mean, you don’t HAVE to do every single one, but just think of how excited your little ones would be if you did…

HEALTHY SNACKS

Orange Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Bowls

Halloween Veggie Tray

Monster Fruit Bowl

Clementine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts

Pretzel and Cheese Broomsticks

Ghost Milk Bottles

Jack-o-Lantern Burgers

BAKED GOODS

Doughnut Monsters

Gooey Monster Cookies

Easy Halloween Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

Ghost Cookies

Gingerbread Mummies

PRETZEL TREATS

Pretzel Spider Webs

Haunted Hooting Owl Pretzels Read More

(sources clockwise from top left: 1/2/3/4/5)

So, technically, Grandparents Day was last Sunday.

But I think most grandparents out there are pretty understanding about the fact that last week was also the first week of school (what genius decided to put Grandparents Day during one of the busiest weeks of the year?!) and are willing to give us a pass.

As such, I’ve put together a great list of ways to honor the grandparents in your family.

It includes the fun crafts above, but also some really special ideas on how to spend the day with a grandparent too.

Check it out here!

Have you guys ever packed smoothies in your kids’ lunches? I’m so intrigued by this idea – it seems like SUCH a good way to get some much needed veggies into my kiddos’ lunches and I know they’d see it as an extra special treat.

But I wonder about the mess factor – is this really do-able?! 

Our food contributor, Natalie, assures me that it is and she’s here today sharing everything we need to know, along with her favorite tools and recipes.

Frozen smoothies are lunch box staples at my house. They are simple to make and easy grab out of the freezer in a pinch.

Why pack homemade smoothies?

  • Easy way to sneak extra nutrients into your kids’ lunches (especially if you have picky eaters)
  • Cheaper than buying single-serve pouches or yogurt tubes
  • You can make a week’s worth of smoothies ahead of time (or more!)
  • Customizable for school regulations and kids with food allergies
  • They save space by doubling as an ice pack

Read More

Question for you guys – do your kids put away their own laundry?

I recently mentioned in my post on our Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit that my 4 and 5 year old get themselves dressed, brush their own teeth and make their own breakfast each morning and have been doing so for over a year.

That alone created a bit of a stir on facebook and I didn’t even mention that they also put away all of their own clothes – woo hoo! (Now you know how I actually survive being a mama of 3 kids, 5 months to 5 years in age!)

Today, we’re sharing a super helpful tool we use around here to get the kids putting away their own clothes – a very basic set of printable graphic labels that go on the outside of the kids drawers

My kids really love taking ownership of this job, especially with these labels that they can color themselves. Here’s MJ to tell you all about it.

Hope you love them as much as we do.

Laundry. It’s not the bane of my existence, but it’s close. I don’t love the many steps (and hours) it takes to go from dirty to folded and back in the drawer.

This super simple step helped to streamline our process and gave my children a sense of independence. Organization is always a goal around here with three school schedules and our professional calendar as well.

Every season my children and I go through their dresser drawers together. We look at what fits and what doesn’t, as well as what clothes they actually wear and which outfits are ready to move on to an owner who might love them more.

This act of purging is a great lesson in giving.

We fold together and reorganize each drawer. Using printable labels make the process simple. We’ve created for you a set of labels that works well for even toddlers as they match pictures to their clothing and make the job a snap! Read More

I’m downright giddy today to FINALLY be sharing my bedroom space with you guys!

I’m so happy with how it turned out – clean, modern, ORGANIZED, and all with a very relaxing and peaceful vibe. Plus this room serves so many functions for me. It was designed to be a real workhorse of a space - functioning as craft-storage room, extra office, bedroom, and even work out area.

When I started out, I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to accomplish all of these things and still have the room feel intimate and cozy, versus overly industrial and sterile. Fortunately, a few choice finds helped me achieve a truly multi-purpose room while keeping a clean and traditional aesthetic.

I’m so happy to share all of my finds with you guys today courtesy of our sponsor Dyson AND to host a giveaway of one of my favorite tools for keeping everything neat and clean. Ready?

Here we go… Read More

Who says popsicles can only be a summer treat? I’m all for extending my enjoyment of this sweet treat at least into fall, and I’m pretty sure my kiddos would be up for that plan too. Today our food contributor Jennifer is here with a scrumptious salty/sweet treat that I know you’re going to love.

Helpful Hint: get yourself a Zoku Quick Pop Maker to whip up all sorts of popsicles (both healthy and not so much) in just 7 minutes – no waiting for them to freeze! We absolutely love ours.

I can feel the days of frozen summer treats winding down but I’m not ready to let go just yet.

I had the most amazingly delicious salted chocolate popsicle recently and couldn’t wait to try to recreate it at home.  It was reminiscent of a fudgesicle but somehow better – more complex, more “adult” in flavor. The version I came up with has Read More

My kiddos headed back to school last week, and I know it won’t be long before they start coming home with all sorts of papers, projects and pictures. Last year, I struggled quite a bit with deciding what to keep and where to keep it. This year, I’m starting with a plan.

My plan is intentionally simple. I don’t follow through with overly structured systems for managing household tasks, and I know it’s likely to fall to the bottom of my to-do list if it isn’t amazingly easy. Here are the basic components:

Read More

Next week is C’s first day of kindergarten and S’s first day of Montessori preschool. You know what that means – time to buckle down and set up some solid morning, lunch packing, and maybe even homework routines. It wouldn’t hurt to set up a backpack and study zone either!

Here’s Alli with 20 of the best projects out there to get you organized for Back-to-School.

My oldest son will be starting a Mother’s Day Out program this Fall. I know, I know. That’s small potatoes in the back-to-school world. But still. It has my heart in a lurch.

I’m already in a tizzy about lunch boxes and tupperware. Backpacks and nap mats. I can’t even IMAGINE the chaos that comes with kindergarten, junior high, or high school.

And my heart panics a little as I type those words, because…well…my BABY! And those days are looming. Right around the corner. Excuse me while I peel myself off the floor.

But I digress.

I’ve decided that the only thing capable of easing these back-to-school Mom jitters, is a little dose of organization. Because not only does organization make life easier, it distracts us from the worries and fears of sending our BABIES back into the trenches. Am I right?!

Without further ado. Here are 20 back-to-school organization projects to help make your educational re-entry seamless.

  1. Make a backpack and school work drop-off station
  2. Make an “over the door” school supply organizer
  3. Create an amazing computer work station
  4. Make a magnetic lunch chart 
  5. Make a portable homework caddy
  6. Organize back-to-school clothes by days of the week. 
  7. Create a school lunch packing station
  8. Create a school snack station
  9. Create a killer Mom command center
  10. Make a mini homework station
  11. Organize school paperwork
  12. Make a family calendar
  13. Plan your after school routine
  14. Make an art cart
  15. Make your own school binders (with printables)
  16. Make  a “Back-To-School Checklist (or print this one)
  17. Create an “On the Go” homework station
  18. Simplify your morning routine
  19. Organize your pantry for quick and easy meals
  20. Simplify your “Mom To-Do List” 

Need more organizational help? Don’t miss our post, 10 Best Ways to Organize Art Supplies.

 

Recently I’ve been doing a little much-needed updating to our facebook page. It’s becoming quit the cozy spot where MPMK readers can come to chat, to learn from one another, to laugh, and even to dish a little. I’d love for you to come join us!

Here are some of the most popular things we’ve been posting on this month:

Top 36 Photos from the Blog, “Reasons My Kid is Crying” (cover photo)

The Infamous 1st Day of School Letter

An Apology to My Second Child

A Stranger Saw What I Couldn’t

7 Differences Between Breastfeeding Your First and Last Baby

How to Stop Sibling Fighting with 6 Words

Don’t Take the Kids to a Busy Place without Teaching these Five Things

How to Organize Your Entire House with One Trip to the Dollar Store

A Simple Trick for Getting Kids to Color Longer

23 Hilarious Baby Pinterest Photo Fails

We’re back today for part 2 of our series on ensuring school success this year, plus we’ve got a great giveaway too!

Before we get to that, though, don’t forget to check out part 1: 6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Tell Them. And please don’t forget to take part in our sponsor, Quaker’s, partnership with Adopt a Classroom.org to get some much-needed funds to a classroom near you!

If you missed it the first time around, the Quaker Up for Classrooms program is trying to address the problem of teachers across America spending more than $1 billion dollars a year of their own money stocking their classrooms.

All you have to do to help is to buy specially marked Quaker products and enter the package codes online at Quaker Up for Classrooms. You’ll get a $1 off coupon for more delicious Quaker products AND you’ll be able to enter your zipcode to make sure the donated funds are going towards schools in your own community.

Got it? Good. Now here’s former 1st grade teacher Kristin with six things teachers want parents to know to start the year off right. (Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!)

Having written about things that your teacher would like you to share about your child, I thought it would be fitting to also let parents know some things that teachers would love to share with you.

I rounded up 6 thoughts that most teachers would agree are highly important for parents to know.  Some might be new ideas or something you’ve never thought about, while others are very basic and a good reminder for us all.

6 THINGS TEACHERS WOULD LIKE TO TELL PARENTS

1) Every great day starts off with a great breakfast.

As a teacher, I wish I could remind parents that eating a nutritious breakfast is as important and being on time to school.  We get busy as parents and sometimes kids aren’t the best at getting up on time.  Trust me, I know how hard it is to get 3 kids out the door for school, while trying to get myself ready for work.  And unfortunately our grocery aisles are packed with ‘breakfast’ foods that are full of sugar and leave us hungry in about an hour.  Around here, we love to start out our day with a bowl of Quaker oatmeal with milk and craisins.

If a child is properly fueled, they’ll be able to concentrate better.  On the other hand, if a child hasn’t been able to eat breakfast or maybe had a breakfast that wasn’t full of nutrients, chances are they will be distracted and not able to work to their potential.  Many of us know what that feels like when we arrive to work with an empty stomach or having just eaten a donut in the car.  It’s hard to work without proper fuel!

2) Teachers need for kids to be getting enough sleep every night.

We talked about this issue in one of our Happy Family Habits.  This goes along the same line as eating a proper breakfast.  Getting a solid 8 hours or more helps kids start the day with energy.  Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep, little learning minds need as much sleep as they can get.

3) A quiet area dedicated to homework will help your child in the long run.

Good study habits start young.  Creating a little corner in your home that is quiet and conducive to quality studying time helps your child take in information and remember it later.  Have you ever tried studying while the TV is on or while people are talking loudly?  It’s hard!  Teachers know that good study habits will help your child retain the maximum amount of information.

4) Don’t get hung up on grades in the early years.

It’s hard not to compare.  We live in a competitive society.  But, the first few years of elementary school have a huge learning curve.  There is so much going on that each child is going to develop differently.  Most of the time it all evens out as elementary school is coming to a close.  Of course, your teacher should notify you if he or she notices signs of a more serious issue.  But, just because another child is reading before yours doesn’t mean that your child isn’t smart. Read More

We’ve got a whole “Back-to-School ” theme going on here this week. Last week it was6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Tell Them and on Monday I finally released our new Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit! (I’m SUPER excited about this. It’s going to be just the thing to help get your kids organized and ready to take on the school year, as well as some new responsibilities.)

Today, I’m over at eHow Mom discussing 5 easy tricks we use to calm back-to-school jitters. These tips are great whether your child is starting preschool, kindergarten, or even middle school. Check ‘em out and then tell me…

Question of the Day

Do you have any special first day of school rituals? Also, don’t forget these handy MPMK school resources:

1st Day of School Photo Printable Pack :  “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be _______”

 

MEGA Packed Lunch Round Up (Thousands of Ideas in One Place)

 

An Entire Month’s Worth of Nut-Free Lunches

 

9 Brilliant Ideas for Setting Up a Homework Station Anywhere

 

What would you say if I told you that my 4 and 5 year old get up, get dressed, and even make breakfast on their own every morning – and have been doing so for over a year? Or that they already have a strong grasp on the concepts of earning, saving, budgeting and even giving money?

So what’s my trick? In two simple words: START EARLY!!

It’s all about empowering our kids from the beginning. We’ve made it a point in our family to help our kids learn autonomy early. We are firm believers that:

It’s not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves, that’s most important.

And today, I’m SO excited to unveil a whole new printables pack that will help you give your kids the gifts of autonomy, family contribution, money smarts, and a giving heart.

MPMK’s Kids’ Responsibilities & Money Management Kit

Includes:

  • Morning Routine Checklist (2 versions – one with graphics for pre-readers and one with blanks to be filled out to fit your routine)
  • Evening Routine Checklist (2 versions – one with graphics for pre-readers and one with blanks to be filled out to fit your routine)
  • Family Jobs Worksheet
  • Money Jobs Worksheet
  • Spend, Save and Share Ledger
  • Savings Visual Goal Sheet
  • Printable “Spend”, “Save” and “Share” labels for DIY Banks

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart

 

MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Handmade Holidays eBook and get the Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit for 50% off!

 

Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:

I wanted to make sure it was extremely flexible and could be used by family‘s practicing all types of chore and responsibility systems in the home.

So we designed it to be used in a variety of ways. Take each kid to buy a special binder and fill it with some colorful stickers to make their own personalized Responsbility & Money Management Book or laminate the sheets and stick them up around the house, on the fridge or the mirror of the kids’ bathroom.

Here’s how it works…

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

First up are our Morning and Evening Routine Checklists. These are key for establishing great self-care habits with kids! Both have the activity to be checked off along the vertical column and the day of the week across the top.

For younger kids (especially pre-readers and emergent readers who like to practice), there is a version with colorful graphics and simple labels for each task.

Since each family’s routines are different, we’ve also included versions of each routine checklist with blanks that you can fill in. Sitting down with your kids and deciding on the order of morning and evening tasks together is a great way to get them invested in, and excited about, the process!

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

If you’re new to a morning and evening routine, my recommendation is to work on the tasks together in the beginning. As you and your child complete items together, make a big deal about marking it off with a sticker!

You can also make these sheets reusable by laminating them and marking each task off with a dry-erase marker. In the past, we’ve also put them on the fridge and used small round magnets, which we slide onto the appropriate circle for the day.

Once kids get in the habit of marking off their accomplishments, you can begin to encourage them to do some things on their own. It will give them a sense of pride to show you what they can do independently. Plus, kids absolutely LOVE IT when they’re allowed access to the sticker pile to check things off all by themselves.

Keep working on transitioning tasks from things you do together to things they do on their own.

You can help your kids succeed by making things in their environment as accessible as possible. For example, keep their clothes in easy to access drawers instead of hanging high in closets. If you want them to work on making their own breakfast in the morning, create a shelf low in the refrigerator with yogurt cups, berries, pre-sliced fruit, pre-filled milk cups, etc. Also, keep their bowls and plates in a low drawer that they can reach instead of in upper cabinets.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Getting kids to take on a few personal responsibilities is a great lead-in to having them take on some family responsibilities.

All families handle chores and allowance differently, and we’ve designed the printables kit to be flexible for that. Don’t do allowance in your house? No problem, just skip the Money Jobs sheet.

In our house we have a list of family jobs as well as a list of extra money jobs.

Since our children are young and, therefore, have different abilities, their family jobs sheets are customized to each of them. A few of the jobs are the same (putting clothes in the hamper, clearing your plate, etc.) and some are different (sorting the socks for little sister and folding clothes for big brother).

We’ve left the spots on these sheets empty so that you can once again sit down with your child and decide together what their family jobs should be. This will really drive home the idea that the family works together and everyone in the family needs to contribute. It will also give your child a sense of ownership of his or her tasks.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Along with the family jobs that each child completes to help out the family, we also have a list of money jobs. These are extra chores that the kids can choose to do in order to earn some money.

Why do we want our young children to have their own money? Because it’s a great tool for teaching them important life skills like saving, budgeting, and giving. It also helps to teach them the value of money in a very real-world, hands-on way.

Again, you can approach money jobs in a variety of ways. The worksheet contains a spot for the job as well as a spot for it’s value (watering the plants earns our kids less than weeding and raking leaves). Each child can have their own Money Jobs sheet or they can all work off one common list.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart

MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Handmade Holidays eBook and get the Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit for 50% off!

 

Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:

 

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Once the kids are earning some money, they need somewhere to put it!

Enter our printable labels for making your own Spend, Save & Share Banks. You can upcycle lots of things to create your banks – we like using glass or clear plastic drink bottles. Print the labels on cardstock and use decorative twine or yarn to tie them on or print on a piece of adhesive paper and stick the labels directly to the bottles. Helpful Hint: Let the kids decide what they want to use to make their banks and spend some time together cutting out the labels and decorating each one.

The idea behind these banks is to teach kids that all money isn’t for spending. It’s also important to put some aside for saving and for giving back. Letting your child pick what she wants to save for and a charitable cause he wants to give to is yet another way to get them excited about this process.

You can decide how much to encourage your children to put in each bank. Since ours are young and don’t totally understand the value of money yet, we keep it pretty simple. Usually we give them 3 coins for doing a money chore (or $3 if it’s a really big chore) and they put one coin in each bank. You may want to do 20% of earnings in savings, 10% in giving and the rest to spend – it’s totally up to you!

To give you an example of how we’re currently using these banks – the Spend Bank has been used for small purchases such as a $.99 app or an ice cream from the neighborhood ice cream truck. It’s also being used to save up for a $20 LEGO set. The Save Bank is money that will be contributed towards a family trip to Disney Land and the Share Bank will be used to buy some school supplies for local foster kids.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.
Another tool in the kit that the kids use along with their banks, is the Save, Spend and Share Ledger. We fill it out together and the notes section is another way of showing them how their money is accumulating as well as where it’s going.

So when my son wonders why it’s taking so long to save up for that LEGO set, he can see that it’s because he keeps buying ice cream!

MPMK Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit: Savings Sheet

The Savings Goal Sheet is another easy way for the kids to visualize how their savings is going. Simply pick an item the kids want to save for and fill it in at the top. Then write the total amount they need to save in the top space and fill in the incremental amounts they’ll need to save enough.

Every once in a while, get the kids to empty out their bank and color in the chart to see how much progress they’ve made.

Helpful Hint: The banks and goal sheets can be awesome catalysts for getting the kids to work together and share. Once my 4 and 5 year old saw how long it was going to take for big brother to save for the LEGO set, little sister decided they should pool their money since she’d likely want to play with it too. Similarly, my friend’s daughter recently used some of her “Share” money to buy her little brother an ice cream cone when he didn’t have enough money of his own.

That’s it! Everything you need to start raising some happy, self-sufficient, money-smart and generous kiddos!

P.S. If you buy the pack, I’d love to see some shots of your DIY banks or even the kids using the routine charts, savings sheets, etc.

Just post to your favorite social media site with the hashtag #KidsMoneyKit!

 

What an awesome resource for teaching kids about family responsibility, earning money, saving, spending and even giving!

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart

MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Handmade Holidays eBook and get the Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit for 50% off!

Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:

 

P.S. If you’re interested in the binder featured in the photos above, it is Martha Stewart and can be purchased on-line through this affiliate links:

And here is the affiliate link to the laminator I use for all my projects if you’re interested in making the pages in your kit reusable:

With a soon-to-be kindergarten in the house (what?!) I’ve been scouting out spots in the house to set up a study station for him. And, after doing a little web surfing, I became convinced that it’s impossible to set up such a space in literally any space.

So many good ideas on setting up homework stations in small spaces

So I put together a handy roundup of the most ingenious ideas I found. You can check them all out here.

Want more MPMK goodness over the weekend? Be sure to sign up for our newsletter (and get the free 6 week meal plan) and to follow us on pinterest and facebook.

Happy weekend