mindful living, effortless style

Image Credit: © Suzette Pauwels (text added) | 01.09.11 | CC by 2.0

Today I have something uber useful for you guys – a bedtime post from Jillian of A Mom with a Lesson Plan (a great site you really should check out if you’re not already familiar).

I’ve posted Jillian’s game-changing, quiet-time-before-bedtime idea on MPMK’s facebook wall a few times and have always gotten a huge response.

Today she’s here to expand on the idea and share her favorite pre-bedtime quiet activities broken down into categories for toddlers, preschoolers & kindergartners, and school-aged kids.

A couple of years ago we were searching for a way to get our kids to go to bed without a fight. By the end of the day, everyone is tired, everyone is ready to unwind and everyone needs some downtime.

The technique we found allows the kids to have quiet time before they go to sleep. We call it “rest time” at our house and it has been a game changer for us.

With quiet time the kids get a chance to play on their own and reflect on their day. It’s turned out to be a really neat way for them to connect as siblings as well. The added bonus? Adult time before we are too exhausted to enjoy it.

Finding activities that are relaxing, able to hold little one’s attention and inspire independent play can be challenging.  Over the past couple of years we have found some great activities perfect for quiet time and I’m happy to be here today sharing our favorites.

Quiet Time Activities Perfect for Toddlers

  • Sorting Colors – Lay out different colors of construction paper. Before you leave the room place one object of a matching color onto the paper. You never know what type of color matching activity this might inspire!
  • Busy Bags – Have a container full of fun and easy busy bag items in your child’s room. Try to keep only 2 or 3 activities in there at a time and rotate them every couple of weeks. This will keep your little one from being overwhelmed and ensure there is always something “new” offered. Read More

Spring is in the air and Earth Day is in a few weeks so I thought it might be a good idea to wrap up the week with one of my favorite projects for teaching kids about planting.

C and I originally made these cheerful succulent gardens for his preschool teacher on Teacher Appreciation Day but you could easily adapt the project for a variety of occasions.

Use the chalkboard labels to write a special message for Mom on Mother’s Day or simply to record the name of the plants you select.  Go here to get the full tutorial and make sure you don’t forget the colorful dinosaurs!

Here are a few more planting projects to try with the kids:

I’m gone on maternity leave for the time being so my sweet friend Tiffany from the visually stunning blog Peanut Blossom is here today generously filling in.  Along with being an amazing photographer, Tiffany is also quite the chef (check out the recipes on her blog for proof) and today she’s sharing – what else – the perfect meal to bring to a family who’s just welcomed a baby to the family.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything, I definitely appreciate the post!, but I really wish Tiffany lived in the same state so she could also bring me this meal.  I love that it’s not the usual-fare (we ate lasagna brought to us by kind-hearted friends for a month straight when S was born) and it just looks so good!

Read on for the recipe as well as Tiffany’s handy-dandy packing and transport tips.

New Babies = Casseroles. It’s a law of nature.

But when you’re on the receiving end of that amazing gift, despite your never-ending gratitude there are days when you think you never want to see another noodle. Ever Again.

Please don’t get me wrong. As a new mother to a tiny 6 pound ball of joy, I would have been grateful for someone to fix me a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. The thought is truly what counts.

But after an amazing 6 weeks of mommy meals provided by my playgroup after the birth of my second daughter, I learned first-hand what a difference just a few tweaks to your staple recipe rotation makes for the families you’re providing nourishment.

This menu is just as easy to make and transport as your standard casserole and brownies. I promise.

And the new mom in your life? She just might kiss you with gratitude for being unique.

tacochiliThe Rockstar Lineup:

  • Slow Cooker Taco Chili – spicy, but kid-approved
  • Veggie Dippers with Seasoned Sour Cream
  • Cheesy Corn Bread Toppers
  • Pineapple Upside Down Sundaes

The Game Plan:

  • Cook the chili in your own slow cooker but transfer it to a large plastic disposable container.
  • Wash and cut the veggies and store separately in plastic zip-top baggies.
  • Prep the seasoned sour cream (I prefer Fox Point seasoning from Penzeys but even a simple ranch packet would be popular with the kids) and transport in the sour cream container itself or another plastic container.
  • Bake the corn bread toppers, wrap lightly in tinfoil.
  • Assemble the pineapple topping, transport in a plastic container.

Final Assembly & Transportation Tips:

In one grocery bag, pack all the cold items:

  • frozen corn
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • veggie bags
  • container of vanilla ice cream
  • pineapple topping
  • whipped cream and cherries (optional)

In a second grocery bag, pack all the hot items:

  • Chili
  • Cornbread toppers
  • Package of tortilla chips

Grab your bags and go! Easy peasy!

And all the new mommy has to do? Heat the chili up and add the corn, and reheat the cornbread. And everything is freezer-ready if something comes up and she prefers to hang on to it for another night. Read More

Aren’t these DIY wooden watercolor Easter eggs fun?! I love their vivid colors so much – the only problem I’m having is deciding whether to make them with the kids or surprise them with a set in their Easter basket.  


I’m out on maternity leave this week and Asia from the absolutely amazing play blog Fun at Home with Kids is here today filling in.  Check out her cheerful Easter DIY below…
I am so excited to have a chance to guest post for Modern Parents Messy Kids!  My name is Asia, I have two kids:  a daughter who is 4 and a son who is nearly 2.  We do a little bit of everything on our blog – art, sensory play, DIY projects, science, and, well, just about anything else that catches our fancy.


Last Christmas I made the kiddos a set of DIY Rainbow Grimm-Style Wood Blocks.  We love them so much, I figured it was probably wise to make a set of Easter eggs for some fun Easter-themed play.  These rainbow wooden eggs are so easy to make that my four year old daughter made every last one herself.I squirted some liquid watercolor into a container, provided her with Read More

Good news friends – just in time for spring (and spring cleaning season), I’m involved in another amazing organizational bundle aiming to help you simplify your spring and save a whole lot of money in the process!

I heard from a lot of you who were bummed when you missed the window on the last one so I decided to get involved in another and I’m really happy with the selection we ended up with…


There are 5 different categories of organization covered, including:

  • Organizing Your Home
  • Cleaning
  • Meal Planning, Chores & More
  • Scheduling
  • Working from Home

Along with the eBooks, there are also a bunch of handy printables and even an online class!

23 awesome organizational products (including printables and an online class) bundled together for only $20 - an 87% discount!


available March 24th until April 7th for only $20…

That’s a savings of $133!

Section 1 – Organizing your home

These 7 eBooks will have you breathing a sigh of relief as you move through getting your pictures organized, figuring out what papers you need to keep, gaining help with homemaking and getting to less stuff & more living!

Section 2 – Cleaning

These two cleaning specific books are mighty! They’ll help you schedule your cleaning and know what’s clean enough so you’re not embarrassed when clients, friends or your mother-in-law stops by unexpectedly.

Organization e-Book bundle - save $133!


Section 3 – Meal Planning, Chores & More

These four finds will help all of us with meal planning and involving the kids in cleaning so we can work and live more efficiently.

There’s also support here for the mothers of special needs children and those in the military to organize their homes even more efficiently than their military service.

Section 4 – Scheduling

These 5 ‘Scheduling’ eBooks will help you create a schedule, arrive on time and provide simple strategies that work for your entire life. With the planner printables included, you will be able to make a plan that works for YOU!

Section 5 – Working from home

The ‘Working from Home’ eBooks will help you stay sane and productive when the kids are home and you need to work.

If you’re looking into starting a home business, or already run one, there’s an eBook about how to be a work at home mom. There are also reads that will also help you organize your direct sales business and an eClass to learn about establishing office hours and a schedule that will help you run a family and a business.


Organization e-Book bundle - save $133!


This eBundle will be available, March 24th – April 7th only, for $20. That’s a savings of $133! So hop over and buy it now!

The Fine Print: We have all the nitty gritty details over on the Frequently Asked Questions Page, but here are a few highlights:

  • Download and back up your eBundle right away! We all know how busy life can be, so don’t wait. We can renew download links until May 9, 2014.
  • Can’t find your eBundle? Check the spam folder in your PAYPAL email.
  • All sales are final. There are no refunds and the deadline for purchasing will not be extended.
  • If you have any questions or issues with any of the e-Books included in this bundle, please contact that author directly.
  • YES! This eBundle CAN be read on Kindles, iPads and more!
  • Have questions about the eBundle? Check out the FAQ page for support!

*Post contains affiliate links.

Happy Thursday guys, we’ve made it through another week.

I’ve been receiving lots of emails from you all lately asking if/when Camp Mom would be available for sale again.  At first I didn’t get it (blame it on the baby brain) but then it dawned on me – spring break is rapidly approaching and you guys are looking for fun and easy ways to connect with your kids.

So look no further – I’m here to help a mother out! Camp Mom, our jam-packed kid activities eBook is officially back on sale at a new low price AND a special discount!

Camp Mom $9.99 – Get 10% off with the code: SPRINGBREAK thru March


Not familiar with Camp Mom?

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.

Read lots more about it, peek inside, and order your copy here!

Have a great weekend!

Do your kids drink smoothies and/or homemade veggie juice?  A nutritious smoothie has been one of my go-to methods for getting S and C protien and veggies for quite a while now – I usually make a one for my breakfast a few times a week and make extra for the kids.

I’d never tried juices with my kiddos though until our new sitter started to bring them over. Imagine my surprise when my 3 year old happily gulped down a whole glass of beat juice!  If this keeps up, I’m going to have to invest in a juicer (and happily so).

Today our food contributor Natalie has put together a stellar roundup of delicious and nutritious smoothies and juices – don’t all the bright colors make you feel like you have more energy already?

Have we all had enough of winter yet? The transition between winter and spring is so unpredictable!

I live in Ohio, where you never quite know when winter will end for good. We’ll get one or two nice days to thaw the snow in February, then it’s freezing cold again, then we get a few more sunny days, then there’s a freak snowstorm in March.

It’s a guessing game that always gets me excited for spring before it actually arrives.

While I should probably channel my spring-related energies into garden planning or outdoor activities, I tend to head for the produce aisle to bring the spirit of warmer weather into our house. Bright, happy smoothies and juices for all, no matter what the weather! Read More

We’ve got another fabulous guest post for your guys today while I step away for maternity leave. This one hails from one of my very favorite kid activity bloggers, Jamie from Hands On: As We Grow.

It’s an activity that has come in very handy around here lately as I’ve become less and less mobile. Set your littles up for a scavenger hunt once and you’ll be hooked – I guarantee it!

Fortunately Jamie has kindly provided us with tons of ideas and variations to keep the fun going.

I am a huge scavenger hunt nut. The kids absolutely love them and we do them routinely at our house. Many times it’s the simplest version of a scavenger hunt – but that’s what’s so fun, it can be done on a whim and the kids love the impromptu fun we have!

I have been collecting all sorts of scavenger hunt ideas for kids and have noticed they happen to fall in one of the five following categories and all put their own little twist on it. Read More

I’m away prepping for, or possibly enjoying, my new baby boy today (I’m not sure yet as I’m writing this several weeks in advance of publishing it). Either way, I haven’t forgotten you guys.  

I’ve asked Holly of the kid play mega site, Kids Activities Blog, to stop by and share her best DIYs and tips for finally getting those LEGOs under control.

This is a challenge we’re starting to face in a very real way around our house and I absolutely love all of Holly’s ideas – especially the DIY easy clean-up play mat (totally brilliant). I hope you try them all!

I have three boys ages 8, 10 and 12 which means I have nearly 7 years of LEGO brick accumulation times three.

My boys are LEGO crazy. If I removed all other indoor toys and just left the LEGO bricks, it is likely my boys wouldn’t even notice. Every allowance penny is saved for more sets. Every birthday means the invasion of additional bricks.

The bottom line is that if I didn’t come up with some sort of organization system, the playroom floor would never be seen again. It took several years of kid-testing and organization re-working to come up with what has worked for us.

How to Organize LEGO Bricks

The key is to think about organization in three areas: Read More

Making Leprechaun Traps for St. Paddy’s Day is the latest tradition being adopted everywhere by families with young kids.  For ideas and instructions on how to get in on the fun and make your own trap, check out my post this week for eHow’s Mom Channel.

The best part about these traps is that your leprechaun can leave anything behind, some of our favorite ideas include:

P.S. Did you know that facebook has recently drastically changed the way pages like MPMK can share with their followers? Even if you’re a fan of the MPMK facebook page, only a portion of our posts and updates are showing up in your feed these days.

So how do you continue to get all of our parenting, playtime, organization, and recipe ideas?  Sign up for the MPMK newsletter!

You’ll get all of our best stuff plus exclusive content just for our subscribers, including a Free 6 week meal plan.

I love celebrating the holidays with my kids – they have such a knack for getting excited about each and every one! But that doesn’t mean I want to stay up all night frosting cupcakes.

Simple but special treats that take under 5 minutes to prepare are much more up my alley. Here’s Janssen with a great one…

Last year, I made some of that rainbow jello that’s floating around on the Internet to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It looked great, but it took hours to make (because it had to set between each layer).

My girls ate about two bites and then were done with it. A week later, I finally just threw it away.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going with this rainbow drink instead. It looks just as pretty (or even prettier!) than the rainbow jello, and it takes all of five minutes to assemble

Rainbow fruit soda -- so fun and festive for St. Patrick's Day! Definitely trying this out for my kids.

Plus, my girls are fruit fiends, so there’s no question it’ll be scarfed down. Along with some shamrock cinnamon toast, it’s the perfect festive breakfast.

You’ll need:

  • Clear glasses or bottles - you can buy glass milk bottles at craft stores or follow this tutorial for making your own from up-cycled Starbucks frappuccino bottles. Read More

We’re back today with our sponsor Ella’s Kitchen giving you the low down on how to set up a food exploration station for your baby

The idea is a simple one - let baby learn about and build an interest in food through all of his or her senses, including touch!  By encouraging your baby to explore new foods tactilely, you’re helping to foster their interest in food in general and to grow adventurous and healthy eaters.

That’s a goal both Ella’s Kitchen and MPMK can get behind – for even more great ideas, check out our collaborative pinterest board: Tiny Taste Bud Adventures.

Did you know that sensory input begins from the very beginning when you first swaddle your baby in a blanket?  Babies actually rely on sensory input to satisfy their reflexes.  And, as they grow, they start to respond to and organize that sensory input.  It’s amazing how much is happening in the first year of life.

At this stage, babies need stimulation.  They use it to learn about their world.  Incoming sensory information comes in these forms:  touch, taste, sound, sight, smells, vestibular input (the body’s position in space), and proprioceptive input (sensations from muscles and joints).

Today we’re going to focus on touch, taste, sound, sight and smell through a simple high chair activity. Not only will this help baby learn about her world, but also to:

Learn about food and start down the path of good nutrition and adventurous eating.

We started by creating three unique experiences Read More

A dress-up closet is such a great creativity tool for kids.  Unfortunately, not many of us have the space to create one in our homes.  

Today Julee is sharing her tips for maximizing your kids’ closet space to create a hybrid dress-up/regular clothes closet and I’m totally smitten with the results.

We just removed the doors from S’s closet and replaced them with curtains to free up some space in her room and give her better accessibility.  I think our next move will be to incorporate some of Julee’s ideas as S is really starting to get into dress-up (currently wearing her Christmas dress just about every day of the week)…

Playing dress-up is one of my daughter’s favorite activities. While I love the creativity and imagination it fosters, I don’t always love the cache of wings, scarves, tutus and tiara such an activity brings.

Since Jenna’s closet has more space in our new house, I decided to optimize the area to accommodate both dress-up play and storage needs.

I started by dividing her closet into zones: Read More

Did you guys know the time to adjust our clocks for Daylight Savings Time is once again coming up next week? It always catches me by surprise, which only meant a night or two of grogginess pre-kids but can now lead to some painful after-effects with the littles.

To help us all get prepared well in advance this year, I’ve compiled my top 6 tips for helping kids to deal with the time change for eHow’s Mom Channel.

Hope they help and happy weekend!

P.S. Did you know that facebook has recently drastically changed the way pages like MPMK can share with their followers? Even if you’re a fan of the MPMK facebook page, only a portion of our posts and updates are showing up in your feed these days.

So how do you continue to get all of our parenting, playtime, organization, and recipe ideas?  Sign up for the MPMK newsletter!

You’ll get all of our best stuff plus exclusive content just for our subscribers, including a Free 6 week meal plan.

Kaley’s here today with one of our family’s favorite snacks.  My littles totally think of this as dessert, which I love because it’s really nothing more than bananas.

Be sure to read to the end for some of Kaley’s favorite flavor variations as well as a list of MPMK’s all-time favorite healthy kid snacks.

I am trying to figure out why my daughter will only eat half of her banana then leaves the rest to get mushy and brown. And speaking of brown, if it has even one tiny brown spot, forget it. It will never get eaten.

After throwing one too many bananas in the compost bin, I came up with a way to use the leftover bits of banana to make a delicious and fun snack that is super healthy, too.

Read More