mindful living, effortless style

A funny thing happened last spring. I put together our “Save Your Spring” printable bundle consisting of our wildly popular:

  • Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life printables
  • Camp Mom eBook
  • AND our Kids’ Responsibility and Money Management Kit

at a limited time, discounted price… except the sale was so crazy popular that I decided keep the special bundle price available all spring and summer.

I just loved getting your emails about how you were using the materials to stay organized and teach the kids accountability – all while making time for some really fun, and ready-to-go activities… The bundle had to stay as long as we were all on break and utilizing it.

Today, with over 1,000 printable packs sold since that day and summer all wrapped up, I’m once again doing something a little crazy.

This very moment, I’m behind the scenes working on updating the calendar pages of the POYEL printables for 2016. They should be ready to role out early next week.

Until, them, I am offering up the:

“Save Your Fall” Bundle $23.87 $5.99

4 Days Only!

That’s 75% off (and our lowest price EVER)

$23.97 Only $5.99

This is your opportunity to nab our wildly popular Kids’ Responsibilities and Money Management Kit for 25% off it’s regular price PLUS get all the 2015 Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life printables and the Camp Mom eBook FOR FREE.

It’s a great deal considering the activities from the Camp Mom eBook are ideal boredom busters all year long and all the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life printables are timeless with the exception of the calendar.

But I’ve got you covered there too – this year we’ll be offering a 2016 calendar refill at a much lower price than the full POYEL kit.

So you can feel good about taking advantage of this amazing deal, knowing that you can easily and inexpensively update the calendar if you want to for 2016.

Here’s more about what you’ll be getting…

First up is part 1 of the “Save Your Fall” bundle and our most popular product…

 

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

MPMK’s Kids’ Responsibilities & Money Management Kit

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart

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.

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.

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

I wanted to make sure this printables pack 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 Responsibility & 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 anddecide 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.

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.

 

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

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!

————————————————————-

Limited Time Offer:

FLASH SALE - Tons of awesome printables to get both Mom and the kids organized and having fun: planner pages, kids' routines, family jobs, money jobs, and entire activity ebook and much more!

Buy the “Save Your Fall” Bundle Pack Now – 4 Days Only!

$23.97 Only $5.99

————————————————————-

Next is part 2 of the The “Save Your Spring” Bundle Sale:

The Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life printables

When we launched our handbook to leading a more simplified life, Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: The Quick Start Guide. It was a huge success and we’ve since sold well over 10,000 copies.

But I also heard from you guys that you would like some handy-dandy printables to go along with your newly-formed action plans. So last year I worked really hard to make that wish a reality.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

The 2015 Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life Printables Pack

Only $7.99

Get the PDF file:

Add to Cart

Inside our 38 page printables pack, you’ll find everything you need to manage every aspect of your day-to-day life from cleaning and meal-planning, to scheduling and that never ending to-do list.

There’s something for everyone here including two different cleaning systems (are you more of a checklist person or a calendar cleaner?) as well as all the printables in both an 8.5″ x 11″ size AND a 5.5″ x 8.5size.

So whether you’re looking to create a home management binder, want to use these in your personal planner you carry around in your bag, or just want a meal plan/to-do list/cleaning chart to stick on the fridge – we’ve got you covered!

There are tons of options in this 38 page printable pack – use them all or pick and choose exactly what you need. There’s even a suggested daily cleaning checklist, weekly cleaning schedule, and master cleaning list included.

Here’s a look at everything you’ll get:

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

A Daily Checklist

A simple one page form that breaks your day up into easily manageable chunks.  There are check-off boxes (for that sense of satisfaction when you complete a task) as well as designated areas for the day’s menu ideas and appointments.  This one is a great candidate for laminating and using over and over with a fine-tip dry erase marker.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

Your Week at a Glance

Conveniently spread across two vertical pages, this gives you a spot to record all of your appointments for the week along with any special reminders you need to leave for yourself in the “notes” section.  There are also spots for your dinner plans and cleaning objectives for each day.  It’s everything you want to accomplish in your week all in one spot.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet

Designed to help you quickly and efficiently get your weekly meal planning done.  Includes sections for all 7 days of the week as well as areas for breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas so nothing gets overlooked.  Keep it in your planner or stick it on the fridge for a visual reminder each morning of what needs to be prepped for that night’s dinner.

Two Types of Weekly Cleaning Worksheets

In the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life eBook, we cover two different types of cleaning systems for two different types of people: the cleaning schedule vs. the cleaning checklist.  In this printable pack, we’ve provided both so you can try each out and see which suits you best.

Weekly Cleaning Schedule Template

Much like the Weekly Meal Planning Worksheet, the cleaning schedule visually lays out everything you need to accomplish for the week to keep your house looking good.  Assign one major task or room of your house to each day of the week and complete with your daily and infrequent tasks (drawn from the master cleaning checklist).

Weekly Cleaning Checklist Template

While still including sections for daily and infrequent tasks, this option breaks down all of the cleaning tasks for the week into those that will take 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 – 60 minutes, or 1 hour or more.  The idea being that whenever you find yourself with a little time to clean, you can quickly check the list for what hasn’t been done yet that week and get to work.

*Printing Note: Since you won’t need both the “Weekly Cleaning” worksheet and the “Weekly Cleaning Checklist” – the intention is to choose one or the other and this must be done for double-sided printing to turn out correctly. When printing, in the pages box, either enter “1 – 6, 8 – 38″ OR“1 – 5, 7 – 38″.

Filled-In Weekly Cleaning Schedule & Checklist

Along with the blank worksheets, you’ll also get versions of both the Weekly Cleaning Schedule and Checklist filled-in with suggested chores for each section.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

12 Months of Pre-Dated Calendar Pages

Along with squaring away your everyday and your week, it’s always helpful to get a look at your month as well so we’ve included pre-dated calendars for each month in 2015. Like the weekly calendar, these are spread out over two vertical pages (no turning to view required).

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

Master Cleaning List

Finally, to be kept as a reference in the back of your planner, we’ve included a Master Cleaning List with columns to categorize chores into “daily”, “weekly”, “bi-weekly”, “monthly”, “quarterly” and “semi-annual” tasks.

Filled-In Master Cleaning List

Just like with the Weekly Cleaning Schedule and the Weekly Cleaning Checklist, you’ll also receive a suggested list of chores for each of the categories mentioned above along with the blank template.

Remember, when you purchase the printables pack, you will receive all 38 pages (including the cheerful cover) in BOTH the 8.5″ x 11″ and the 5.5″ x 8.5″ sizes, all for one low price!

You can print the pages to be used individually.  Or you can choose the duplex/double-sided printing option on your printer (or at a local printing store) and pop everything into a binder or small personal planner – see note below on double-sided printing.

If you really want to get fancy, you can even invest in a discbound puncher (affiliate link) and use the 5.5″ x 8.5″ size with a planner like these Martha Stewart versions.

————————————————————-

Limited Time Offer:

FLASH SALE - Tons of awesome printables to get both Mom and the kids organized and having fun: planner pages, kids' routines, family jobs, money jobs, and entire activity ebook and much more!

Buy the “Save Your Fall” Bundle Pack Now – 4 Days Only!

$23.97 Only $5.99

————————————————————-

And last, but definitely not least, part 3 of the bundle:

Camp Mom: an 84 page PDF download put together by the best playtime bloggers around - full of activities, reading lists, crafts and adventure ideas for making the most of your spring and summer break!

Camp Mom Activities Pack

Only $9.99

Get the PDF file:

Add to Cart

What’s on your spring break and summer vacation bucket lists this year? How about the simple goal of entertaining the kids with some good ‘ol fashion at-home fun? Sounds like a good plan, right?

But scouring the web to find activities to fill the days just takes way too long. If you’re like me, you need simple ideas that will be successful for all of the kids – and lots of them.

Activities that will allow for bonding time, but also independent play, and that will keep the kids happy and their brains stimulated all spring and summer long.

That’s where the Camp Mom: Summer Activities Pack comes in. It’s an 86 page PDF I cooked up with a group of the best playtime bloggers around.

Basically, it’s the best early education minds I know, all putting together our best stuff to provide you with all the tools you’ll need to guarantee a great spring and summer:

  • Printable planning pages (art supply prep list, Summer Bucket List template, etc.)
  • Four themes with over 45 Simple and FUN activity ideas that are open-ended and perfect for kids aged 2 – 9 plus tons of bonus ideas.
  • Adventure ideas and tips – you can have adventures without leaving your backyard or use the ideas to get out and explore your community.
  • Tips for success: managing sibling conflict, what to do with the toddler, how to enjoy a museum with your kids, and etc.
  • Reading  recommendations to go with each of the 4 themes.

It’s really going to help you make the most of the precious time you have this spring and summer. Plus, the activities are open-ended so they’re great for a wide range of ages.

Here’s a peek inside:

Camp Mom: an 84 page PDF download put together by the best playtime bloggers around - full of activities, reading lists, crafts and adventure ideas for making the most of your spring and summer break!

Included in your 86 page Summer Activities Pack, you’ll find:

3 Comprehensive Theme Weeks

Each including playtime activities, ideas for getting out of the house, and reading lists:

  • Water: Splash and Play
  • Art: The Earth Without art is just “Eh”
  • Nature: Explorers in Your Own Back Yard

Planning Printables

  • Bucket List – Make sure you don’t miss something you REALLY want to do.
  • Summer Routine Sheet – Combine your tasks and the kids activities.
  • Theme Adventure and Activity Planner – You won’t forget what supplies you need.
  • Summer Survival Sheet – Keep your most important data in one spot.

PLUS – Sensory Play Any Day theme with a printable list of ideas you can refer to any time you need an activity QUICK that will engage the kids and keep everyone happy. The Sensory Play section also includes links to loads of sensory activities that rank as favorites with our kids.

In total the pack contains 45 detailed play activities as well as TONS more ideas and resources.

Along with the planning printables, activity instructions, adventure ideas, and reading lists – we’ve also included bonus sections to ensure your summer runs smoothly.  Topics include:

  • How to Plan for a Mindful Summer
  • How to Keep the Peace Between Siblings
  • How to Put Together a Basic Summer Art Kit (Plus 20 more art ideas using just those basics)
  • How to Get the Most Out of Museum Field Trips and How to Discuss Art with Kids
  • Kitchen Sensory Fun
  • And more!

It’s basically what you’d get if you asked all of your favorite teachers, babysitters, and supermoms to make a summer curriculum just for you.

————————————————————-

Limited Time Offer:

FLASH SALE - Tons of awesome printables to get both Mom and the kids organized and having fun: planner pages, kids' routines, family jobs, money jobs, and entire activity ebook and much more!

Buy the “Save Your Fall” Bundle Pack Now – 4 Days Only!

$23.97 Only $5.99

 

Just in time for the back-to-school season and the crazy mad urge to clean and organize EVERYTHING that goes with it (or is that just me), we’ve got another green cleaning post.

This time our contributor, Kaley, is tackling the bathroom with green cleaner recipes for the floors, toilets, drains, counters, mirrors and more plus a detailed order-of-operations about how to go about it all most efficiently. Whoo hoo!

The bathroom is one of the hardest working rooms in the house. And also the grimiest. Which is why there is an entire aisle at the store dedicated to bathroom cleaning products.

There is the tub and tile cleaner. The mirror cleaner. The toilet cleaner. The floor cleaner. The drain cleaner. And then the super duper mold killer.

The majority of these products are made with extremely harmful toxic chemicals. Definitely not something I want in my house.

You could buy the eco-friendly version of each of these products. But then you might be spending a small fortune on cleaning products just for your bathroom.

Not to mention having to dedicate and entire cabinet to all of these products, whether they are eco-friendly or not.

I prefer to skip that aisle all together, and use just a few ingredients and supplies to clean the bathroom. It takes up much less storage space, and costs just pennies to keep the bathroom sparkling clean.You will need: 

  • distilled white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • dish soap
  • rubbing alcohol
  • water
  • spray bottles
  • squeeze bottle or small container
  • cleaning rags
  • scrub brush

Directions:

After a lot of practice, I have found that this is the speediest way to deep clean your bathroom without chemicals. If you clean in this order, you will make effective use of the “wait” times that some of the solutions need.

  1. Spray the shower, tub, sinks and tiles.
  2. Spray the outside of the toilet, and squirt toilet cleaner into the bowl.
  3. Dust any shelves or surfaces.
  4. Clean all mirrors and windows.
  5. Go back and finish the toilet.
  6. Scrub the sinks and clean the counter tops.
  7. Vacuum or sweep floors.
  8. Finish the shower, tub, sinks and tiles and take care of any mold or mildew that you find.
  9. Clean the drains.
  10. Clean the floors.

Shower / Tub / Sinks / Tile

In a spray bottle, mix 1 part HOT water, 1 part distilled white vinegar, and a few squirts of dish soap. Shake to combine everything. Spray the inside of your sink, tub or shower liberally and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Using a wet textured cleaning rag, or wet scrub brush, Read More

*I’m a PediaSure SideKicks Partner and am a sponsored blog partner, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.

Did you know August is “Kids’ Eat Right Month“?

In celebration, I’m pulling together my favorite tips and tricks for helping kids to eat healthy.

My #1 tip is to always, always have veggies on hand. A few of my favorite techniques for doing so include:

  • Stocking the fridge with individual portions of cut veggies and hummus or yogurt cups for dipping so the kids can simply grab and go.
  • Setting out a plate of veggies and our favorite dips as we cook dinner. The kids are always hungry around then and I have no problem with them filling up on the good stuff.
  • Using my slow cooker to always make sure I have a nutritious vegetable side dish ready to go with dinner.

This last tip is especially useful for the coming fall season. It’s always so wonderful to have something warm and delicious stewing in the kitchen all day when the weather starts to turn cold.

Here are half a dozen of our favorite ways to slow cook your veggies:

  1. Slow Cooker Corn on the Cob via 12 Tomatoes (pictured top)
  2. Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots via Who Needs a Cape? (pictured second row left)
  3. Crockpot Sweet Potatoes via TheFrugalGirls.com (pictured third row left)
  4. Super Simple Side: Crispy Garlic Onion Green Beans via Crockpot Gourmet. (pictured bottom right)
  5. Slow Cooker Roasted Vegetables via Six Sisters’ Stuff
  6. The Easiest Way to Cook Spaghetti Squash via My Plant-Based Family

Of course, dinner isn’t the only time we like to try to encourage healthy eating. I polled some of my best mom friends for their go-to tricks for feeding their littles nutritious stuff all day long. Here’s what they said:

  • Include the kids in every step of the process from meal planning and grocery shopping to preparing the meal.
  • Take the time to educate them and explain why we nourish our bodies. You’ll be surprised how much they can understand and appreciate about the power of good food.
  • Presentation is big but you don’t have to create a Pinterest-worthy bento box for every meal. Think about exciting plates and silverware as well as using toothpicks in unexpected places to add a little fun.
  • Nutritious food doesn’t have to be boring. There are tons of yummy recipes out there for energy bites, smoothies, and much more.  Here’s a great recipe for homemade fruit bars you can whip up using Pediasure Sidekicks:

Read More

Image Credit: © Don Lavange | found here | CC by 2.0 (edited)

As the seasons change gatherings with friends will change too, morphing from backyard grilling to indoor dinner parties.

I don’t know about you, but I always find the switch a little intimidating. Hosting your friends takes a bit more planning when you have to coordinate beyond simply throwing a few steaks on the grill and turning the sprinklers on for the kids.

And when hosting multiple families, how to keep the kids from bouncing off the walls while the parents enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese plate is often no simple task.

As always, we’re here to help.

All you need are good friends, good eats (we won’t tell if you get takeout!) and these dinner party basics, brought to you by yours truly in partnership with Evite and Scotch-Brite™ Extreme.

Step 1 – Plan to Make it Fun for the Kids Too!

This is ALWAYS rule #1. The more fun the kids are having, the more occupied they’ll be, and the more time the grown ups will have to relax and talk.

Let me say right now that dinner parties are one time I happily throw my screen time rules out the window. Almost nothing is more thrilling to kids than a bonafide movie night (have them bring or wear their PJs to make it extra special).

We usually encourage free play for at least an hour or so when everyone first arrives (kids LOVE playing with other kids’ toys). Then we always feed all the kids together first.

Once they’re done, we set them up with a movie (or two!) and it’s the adults turn to sit down and enjoy some good eats.

If you need an engaging, and relatively mess-free, activity to keep the kids busy before dinner, a solid coloring station never fails. Set out some shiny new crayons, a few stickers, and lots of free printables from this site and you’ll be good to go.

Step 2 – Send out a Fancy Invite

Make your get together more of an event by taking the extra step and sending out simple Evites – even if it’s just a few of your favorite families getting together for a Sunday night dinner.

This premium Evite invitation is super fun, or you can browse through more designs in Evite’s dinner party invitation gallery.

Evite Premium Dinner Party-Invitation

 

Step 2 – Set the Mood

To create a relaxed and inviting party environment, my favorite trick is always to Read More

This time of year I find I am usually equal parts excited and anxious for what lays ahead. So many new opportunities, friends, sports, clubs, etc. – so many new schedules to balance (especially now that I have a full day student, a part-time preschooler, and a baby).

You may have noticed, in fact, that I’m already in preparation overdrive

Well, I’m not done yet! Today our contributor Kristin, a former first grade teacher, is here sharing her all-time favorite back-to-school hacks.

You would never show up to a job interview unprepared.  We spend weeks preparing for interviews and promotions, so let’s put the same effort into getting ready for school

Being prepared makes a hard task seem easier.  It rids our lives of chaos and it helps our children feel ready for their big job of learning.

I put together a list of some of my favorite organizational tips and ideas to make the school days run smoothly.

It will take a little bit of time to get these up and running, but the amount of time you will save in your day-to-day tasks will be worth the original investment.

Read More

Finding just the right activity to sign up your little one to attend, can be nothing less than maddening.

I really value classes that allow my kids to be active, gain confidence, and grow their social skills. That said, I also like to spend a lot of our time on unstructured play and usually limit activities to just one per season. Which means, I am VERY choosy about which classes we take.

Gymnastics is far and away one of my favorites. There’s just something so amazing about watching S discover the new and incredible things her body can do each week. She always bounds out of class filled with excitement and you can practically see her self-confidence growing.

Today we’re partnering with The Little Gym to give you an insider’s look into their unique program.

Their approach is based on three core tenets: “Get Moving” to foster flexibility, strength, balance and coordination; “Brain Boost” to nurture listening skills, concentration and decision making; and “Citizen Kid” to promote sharing, teamwork, cooperation and leadership abilities.

The very first “true” gymnastics class I ever took C to was at The Little Gym and I still remember it 5 years later because I was so impressed.

Unlike some of the other more play-based gyms we’d done trial classes at, The Little Gym encouraged my little toddler to use real gymnastics equipment.

I swear to you, I will never forget, the astonishment that I felt (and the look of pure joy on C’s face) as he hung in the air, all by himself, swinging from the lower of the uneven bars. It was a moment to remember.

Here’s our contributor, Janssen, with her recent experience…

Like most parents, my husband and I spend a fair amount of time talking about what we want for our children as they grow up in our home.

One thing that has always been a big priority to both of us is having our children be active. Both of us loved different sports and dance activities as children and teenagers – he is a runner, a swimmer, and a tennis player, and I love gymnastics, Zumba, and biking.

Now that I have children of my own, I recognize how important it is for their little bodies to be moving as they get older. And aside from the health and coordination benefits, I won’t pretend I don’t love it when they conk out the minute I tuck them in bed because they are happily worn out.

Since our family just moved to a new state last month, I’ve been looking for ways for my girls to meet new friends and stay active. And since our new home is in Arizona, where the temperature is routinely pushing 110 degrees, I knew I needed it to be indoors. Read More

Image Credit: © Melissa | found here | CC by 2.0 (edited & text added)

I’m wrapping up a wonderful family vacation at the lake tomorrow. But even as I sit here watching the sunset over the water and sipping my Chocovine (dutch chocolate + fine red wine, who knew?!), even I can’t deny that the new school year is just around the corner. I know folks back in the south who have been in school for a week or two already!

In an effort to start the year off on the right foot, I’m doing a little meal planning prep – aka compiling all our healthy breakfast, lunch, after school snack, and simple gotta-get-to-soccer practice dinner ideas.

Why? Because I like having good resources but I LOVE having them all in one easy-to-access spot.

And, while I was at it,  I thought I’d go ahead and share the list with you so you guys can have it as a resource to use all year long (share it with your mom friends too, they’ll thank you!).

Breakfast

The Best Breakfasts for Back to School Brain Power

5 Brilliant Ways to Make Oatmeal Easy

4 Healthy Smoothie Recipes for Moms and Kids

 

Packed Lunches

MEGA ROUNDUP: School Lunch Ideas for Everyone!

A Full Month of Nut-Free Lunches

Lunch Box Smoothies 101

4 Quick “Roll Up” Recipes Your Kids Will Love

 

After School Snacks

23 Healthy Homemade Kids Snacks

How to Set up a Serve Yourself Snack Station

20 Healthy & Simple Kid-Friendly Snacks

3 Dips to Get the Kids to Eat More Veggies

A Month’s Worth of Healthy Family Snacking

 

Easy Dinners

30 Minute Dinners: A Weekly Meal Plan for Busy Families

18 Slow Cooker Dinners the Kids Will Actually Eat

20 Cook Once, Eat Twice Dinner Ideas

Freezy Peasy: Freezer Cooking Made Easy!

With school beginning soon, and a couple of my friends recently welcoming third babies to the family, helping the older kids to learn to prepare their own meals and snacks has become a hot topic of conversation.

It all started when one of my friends sent me this facebook link and we all started to chime in on how the system would or wouldn’t work for us and what we might do differently.

I kept thinking about the many ways we can get kids to be more self-sufficient during meal prep and eventually decided to develop a 3-part series around the idea with our contributor, Kristin.

Today we’re starting off with snack stations. Hope you get some great ideas and we’d love to hear from you if you have your own techniques that are working well!

One of the many benefits of growing children is their growing independence.  The overwhelming tasks of feeding and changing little ones gets easier every year.

Diapers turn to potty training and bottles turn to solid food.  Pretty soon they are able to feed themselves and the next thing you know, you have finger prints all over your pantry.

As my kids have grown, I have noticed their growing desire to become independent in their eating.  When they’re hungry, they scrounge around and come up with a snack.  But, I’m still the parent, so I want to guide them and help them make healthy choices while still maintaining their independence.

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A snack station has been a huge help during the summer, on the weekends and after school during the year.

I choose one or two (depending on how many kids are eating and how hungry they are) of each of the following categories:  Whole Grains, Protein, Fruit and Vegetables.

The kids can serve themselves and snack away.

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Tips for Creating a Snack Station

Choose the type of food you will serve

Don’t over complicate this.  It should be easy, but not necessarily pre-made.  If you have applesauce cups (for example), you can put those out.  If you don’t, just cut up some fruit. Read More

Image Credit: © Tricia | found here | CC by 2.0 (edited)

Every single time I stumble across an article or a post relating to “screen time” and kids, I devour it. First off, I want confirmation (that I rarely get, because everyone must be lying) that I’m not the only parent whose kids get waaaay more than the token thirty-minutes of approved screen time on any given day. It’s not constant, but yeah, I’ve been known to hand over my phone or a tablet so I can focus for an entire 45 minutes. Hell, even an hour. Hands up if you’ve been there.

Second, I admit it, I want to hear the latest recommendations – even if I’m just going to shake my head at the absurdity. I have my doubts that some of these “experts” spend much time with kids at all.

But I tacitly approve of the stories that acknowledge that technology is part of our kids’ lives and offer advice to moderate its use without getting too crazy. Last year, both my second grader and my kindergartener had ten minutes of screen time four nights a week purely for homework’s sake, on math and reading websites. There’s an educational aspect to this whole argument that just can’t be denied.

Third, I’m waiting for a story that finally acknowledges something every single parent knows all too well – technology makes us all hypocrites. Right? Read More

The summer is quickly coming to a close, has it been what you hoped?!

If your answer is, “Not exactly”, have no fear. There’s still time to get a few weeks of the laid back summer you desired AND to setup a schedule that works for you this fall – and we’re here to help.

Today, in our official capacity as a member of The Oat Authority, we’ve got a SUPER HELPFUL PRINTABLE just for you.

In case you missed our last post on what The Oat Authority is all about, my partnership with Quaker came about from Quaker’s dedication to providing both the fuel and the inspiration families want to make playtime a frequent priority.

Of course, scheduling plays a big role in that!

Here’s Kaley with a free printable guaranteed to bring you days with plenty of time blocked off for fun

Long summer days without the rushing and time constraints that come with the school year sound heavenly. Lazy days relaxing in the hammock and swimming until dark, then sleeping in and doing it all over again. Thats how I wanted my summer to go. But with two little ones running around, that just wasn’t realistic.

As an elementary school teacher, I know that kids thrive on routine. And setting up a simple routine always ensures smoother days but just the word “routine” seems to go against the care-free spirit of summer.

Let me assure you, though, having a routine doesn’t mean you have to stick to a strict schedule. Read More

Back-to-school season is upon us… how are you feeling about it? Craving a good plan and a little more energy to tackle it all maybe?

My favorite functional nutritionists are here with us today to give us a fail-proof 4 pronged plan for getting there!

And, if you want to take things even further, they’re also once again offering:

20% Off the “Prescribe 20″ Online Nutritional Course with the code: MPMK20

August 9th – 28th

 

Lots more info. on their program and my experience with it at the end of this post!

But first, the four-step plan to gain some much-needed Mommy Energy…

Summer? What summer? You’ve been a full-time chef, a part-time referee, a chauffeur and a housemaid up to your knees in laundry. Days have never been longer and balance is a thing of the past. You get tipsy just thinking about it.

When your stress hormones are kicking and your temper is short, you might find yourself wondering, “What happened to that easy-going mom I planned to be, and that that relaxing summer we planned on having?” You’re not the only mom living for back-to-school.

And how about those mood swings? There is a physiological reason for that: you are living in a state of overdrive, so consider yourself off the hook.

We aren’t the party poopers here to complain about the season we look forward to from January-May, but the reality is your days are longer (are anyone else’s children up at least an hour later at night and earlier in the morning?), and you are the last person that gets taken care of.

We want you to know that a) you are not alone and b) we’ve got a plan for you. Now doesn’t that sound like a breath of fresh air?

It’s time to make yourself a priority, break the stress cycle, and get back to feeling like yourself so when school starts you don’t look some stranger in the mirror (that’s you we’re talking about).

Tip #1 – Take a deep breath

Not just metaphorically. Stopping to take just five deep breaths can help you press the pause button in life, to break that stress cycle. Go on, try it. You’re going to be shocked.

Tip #2 – Fuel your body!

We love whole foods and they work wonders when it comes to balancing the chaos inside our bodies. If you are new to eating a whole food based diet, we’ve got all the support you need.

Our favorite quote: The more alive your foods, the more alive you’ll feel.

This next program is all about whole foods (aka, alive!) where we give you all ‘the whys’ and support behind changing up the way you eat. Even on your own, the smallest efforts to choose whole/real foods when and where you can will change your energy and moods in ways you might not expect!

Where can you sneak them in?

  • Throw spinach in a smoothie
  • Add chia, hemp or flax seeds to your morning oat, cereal or porridge bowl
  • Make your own easy, delicious salad dressing (see below)
  • Are you a coffee drinker? Add a little full fat coconut milk and some cinnamon or cardamom…even coffee can become a superfood (AMEN)

Tip #3 – Make some time for you

What do you need to feel satisfied? Maybe it’s a walk with a friend or even a shower without your kiddos repeatedly yelling, “Mom!”.

Make space in your life for Y.O.U. The best way we can model living balanced lives to our children is to show them self-care. It’s not selfish – it’s being a good role model.

Tip #4 – Get your immune system in fighting mode

We all know that back to school, can mean ‘back to bugs’… the more you do the above, the better equipped your body will be to fight the good fight.

Two immune building tips:

  1. Eat fermented foods – The live flora promotes a healthy immune system.
  2. Get plenty of zinc from sesame and pumpkin seeds – Zinc will not only help keep illness at bay, it will drastically increase your recovery time.

“Prescribe 20″ kicks off on August 9 and to say we are ready is an understatement. With a focus on whole foods, we are taking out the junk and fueling your body.

Use promo code mpmk20 for 20% off

More on the Prescribe 20 Program

Steph here again! As promised, here’s everything you need to know about the Prescribe 20 program and what you’ll be in for when you sign up…

Do you ever think to yourself, “I am ALWAYS tired.”?

I went through a big slump after having S, in which I just couldn’t seem to find my energy anywhere. Plus, I had headaches for a lot of the day, every day.

All that exhaustion and pain meant I had no energy to play with the kids plus I was moody and crabby with a short fuse and very short on Mama patience.

At first I tried to figure it out on my own, then I sought help through my general physician, OBGYN, and even a naturopath. But I never found the solid answers I was looking for.

It wasn’t until I met the functional-nutritionists at Prescribe Nutrition, Katie and Megan, that everything changed for me. 

It’s hard to believe that I’ve known Katie and Megan for years now. They’ve played such an important role in helping to make me the mom I want to be and I’ve loved being an affiliate for their online programs because I believe in what they do so much.

So why am I telling you this story now, several years later?

The ladies at Prescribe Nutrition are once again offering MPMK readers a 20% discount on their latest, 20 day on-line nutrition course:

Get 20% Off the “Prescribe 20″ Online Course with the code: MPMK20

August 9th – 28th

 

This program isn’t the exact one I participated in back then – it’s better.

Along with the online support group, unprecedented access to the nutritionists, and the recipe protocol packet, this time around the ladies are also including lots of new features including an extended time period (20 days instead of 15), an exercise program, and an entire section of slow-cooker recipes!

And here’s the part where I “keep it real”.  The Prescribe Nutrition courses aren’t a cake walk (either literally or figuratively).  

It was hard – especially the first week when my body was craving all the processed foods and sugar I usually fed it. But I did it – what’s more I got my husband to do it too and we both felt SO MUCH better at the end.

When telling people about it I would say that I didn’t necessarily feel like I was ready to run a marathon but I did generally feel happier and less tired. I also realized once I began the program that previously I’d been experiencing chronic stomach pains and bloating at night.

They’d become so commonplace that I didn’t even notice them, or think about doing anything to avoid them. Then I started my 15 days, those symptoms disappeared, and I felt amazing.

Finally, the most profound outcome of the experiment was how it affected me as a mother. Without the headaches and exhaustion, I became so much more fun!  And I started connecting with my kiddos in new ways – which was a huge gift and exactly what I was hoping to gain from the experience.

Sign up with the 20% off code: MPMK20 and start your journey to getting your energy back today!

 ——————-

Creamy Tahini Dressing

SERVES 1.5 CUPS

  • 1⁄2 cup tahini
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup water, or more for thinning

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend on high until completely smooth. Add water if needed to thin, it will thicken as it chills.

 

RECIPE NOTES

We love this dressing, sauce, dip…whatever you want, it works.

When using as a sauce (like on our mushroom lentil tacos) or a dip, you’ll want to keep it on the thicker side.

Works great as a dressing on the thinner side. This is also a snack unto itself – just use it for carrots and celery and BAM you’re good to go.

*post contains affiliate links.

I recently took to our facebook page and asked what type of recipe posts you’d most like to see here. 

MPMK reader Rebecca suggested a roundup of “cook once, eat twice kind of meals”. I replied, “I want those too!” because how brilliant is it to have dinner ready with no cooking on the second night?!

I put our resident food contributor, Natalie, on it and she didn’t disappoint…

Looking to save some time in the kitchen?

Double-duty dinners are a great way to cut down on extra cooking. You can make the major meal one night and use the leftovers to create a new meal the next night.

Perfect for vacation meal planning or back to school!

Many of these options start with a slow cooker, which is even easier yet. Read More

You guys know I’ve been a long time fan of positive parenting expert Amy McCready. My family has used her positive parenting eCourse for years and we’ve collaborated several times to offer free webinars on positive parenting topics like getting kids to listen without nagging or yelling.

Amy has just released a brand new book:

The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World

I was so happy when she sent me a preview copy and I’m really excited to help her get the word out as I believe it to be something absolutely every parent can use in their arsenal.

Preventing entitlement in my kiddos has been continuously lingering in my thoughts since C’s very first Christmas when gifts from loving aunts, grandparents, and my husband and I literally spilled from under the tree. (Six years and two more kids later and you can just imagine the sight of that tree now!)

It can be such a tricky line trying to balance how much is too much with our kids and I am really so, so pleased that Amy has chosen to tackle the topic. She always has such concrete and tangible wisdom to share and this time around is no exception.

I really appreciate that, whatever topic she is tackling, Amy always leaves me with a step-by-step game plan to get started right away. Read More

In the seven years since we’ve been throwing kids’ birthday parties, the party landscape has lost its mind. I blame Pinterest.

Last week was the big first birthday for our youngest, and let’s just say the theme was “simplicity.”

It’s a good thing love isn’t measured in mix-your-own trail mix stands or chalkboard signs or carnival themes, because Em had none of that last Thursday. And spoiler – she didn’t care. She didn’t even care about the age-appropriate first birthday gift we gave her (although the stacks of tissue paper I used to wrap it were a huge hit).

Before settling on that toy set with the lights and buttons and whirling things, I jumped online to Google “first birthday gift ideas,” and ended up on, you guessed it, Pinterest.

And down the rabbit hole I went, until I found myself seriously debating the merits of a rustic/vintage county fair theme complete with a mini petting zoo and a photo booth (family heirloom quilt backdrop, naturally) to a decidedly more practical pink lemonade stand idea. Because who’s going to refuse to buy lemonade from the tutu-bedecked birthday girl? That’s what I want to know. Also – does the handcrafted ombre banner put it over the top, or is that just me?

And really quickly, how much planning and preparation and work goes into a vintage county fair first birthday party anyway? Good Lord. Who are these people? And can we be friends?

If I’m being honest, Read More

Image Credit: © David D | 137 – Look up! | CC by 2.0 (cropped & text added)

When we published our free B.O.R.E.D. printable I told you we’d be following up with some posts on how to help your kids carry out the different tasks. Today we’re addressing R – read a book with the help of the non-profit Raising a Reader.

They’re hooking us up with some really solid ideas on how to keep kids reading this summer (and the rest of the year too!) and how to use the time to instill a love of reading that will last a lifetime.  According to Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., national executive director of Raising A Reader:

“It is important to instill a love of books in children at an early age and introduce reading as a pleasurable experience. One way to do this is to establish a regular home-based literacy program that is independent of school, and the summer is a perfect time to start.”

Sounds like some sage advice to me – let’s raise us some readers, shall we? Here’s how…

Put it on the Schedule

  • Reading often gets lost in the shuffle of summer activities such as camp, sports and vacation travel. Schedule a regular time to share books with your child and establish a regular routine to ensure reading doesn’t become a low priority and has the same importance as other activities.

 Read the Book, Watch the Movie

  • If your child wants to see a summer blockbuster movie that is based on a book, read the book with your child first and then let them see the movie as a reward. This also works well with popular movies on DVD. Engage your child in discussions about differences or similarities between the book and the movie.

 Take it Outside

  • Create an outdoor reading area so the while family can enjoy the summer weather and not feel stuck inside. Children generally read indoors, so being outdoors will create a new environment for enjoying a book and boost a child’s enthusiasm for reading.

Read More