mindful living, effortless style

I’ve got a fantastic positive parenting guest post today from Annie of Motherhood and More. I discovered Annie through her hilarious and insightful facebook posts and was instantly smitten.

I absolutely love her idea of spring cleaning your parenting each year. It can be so easy to get stuck in our habits and routines without putting much thought into what we’re doing.

By putting a parenting spring clean on the calendar every year, you’re ensuring that you’re not parenting on auto-pilot!

Here’s Annie with the details…

Don’t you just love spring? Warm weather. Flowers. The world bursting into life.

While many of us take this new beginning as an opportunity to clean out closets, wipe down floorboards, and shake out throw rugs, I also like to take some time to spring clean my parenting.

Like my home, I feel like my parenting can get stagnant and cluttered. My relationships with my kids can use some freshening, and my habits can use a little sprucing up.

If you’d like to join me, here are five steps to spring clean your parenting.

Step 1: Declutter Your Time

As the school year winds to a close, it’s time to choose how our summer will be spent.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • While structured activities can be great, overdoing it can cause undue stress on you and your children.
  • Leave some free time in your schedule to just be. Sit and sip lemonade. Picnic at the playground. Go for leisurely strolls. Toss a ball back and forth. Simplifying your family’s time and activity schedule is one of the best ways to make sure you have time for meaningful connection.
  • Decluttering time suckers can help with that, too. (I’m looking at you, Facebook!) Now is a good time to set some new screen time rules for yourself as well as your kids. Moderation in all things.

Step 2: Air Out Your Expectations

Kids go through so many stages and phases, it can be hard to keep up. Now is a good time to reexamine the expectations you have of your children.

Are they ready to Read More

Looking for a quick and easy Earth Day project to do with the kids? Our contributor Janssen teamed up with our newest sponsor, Juicy Juice, for the perfect Earth Day kid craft- upcycled juice box seed starters!

It’s spring break this week around here and I can’t wait to make a whole batch with the kids this week. I also love Janssen’s idea of making them now and using them as gifts for Teacher Appreciation Day later.

spring break activity and teacher appreciation gift- who doesn’t love a two-in-oneHere’s all the details…

One of my favorite parts of spring is starting a garden.

When I was growing up, my family always had garden beds, and we grew everything from peas to strawberries to edelweiss.

Since I’ve been married, I’ve almost always had a garden, whether it’s a tiny windowsill herb garden or a backyard garden box.

And now my little girls have caught the gardening bug too. They love watching their various herbs, flowers, and vegetables pop up, and every morning, as soon as breakfast is over, they beg to go check on their plants and water them (my job is to prevent these poor plants from getting watered seven times a day). Read More

It’s really too bad Earth Day doesn’t get the same fanfare as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and the like.

The shape our environment’s in these days, we could certainly use a day where every family sits down and really talks to their children about the impact (both positive and negative) that they can have on the world they live in.

Here are 14 of our favorite ideas to help you hold an Earth Day celebration at your house.

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Clockwise from top right

Make a Plantable Paper Earth – This is the project that keeps giving. It starts as a hands-on art activity and morphs into a planting activity the kids can keep an eye on for the rest of the season.

How to Create an Upcycled Inventor’s Box for Hours of Open-Ended Play – The name just about says it all but it’s also good to note that there are handy free printable idea cards to help get the kids’ creative juices flowing.

Planting with Ice Cream Cones (via Design Mom) – This method of growing from seeds is one that is sure to excite your littles. They’ll be so intrigued by the image of dirt in an ice cream cone, they won’t be able to help but get involved.

Coffee Filter Stained Glass Earth (via I Can Teach My Child) – My favorite part about this art project is that it’s appropriate for a really wide range of ages.

The Kitchen Garden Experiment: Growing Plants from Food Scraps – This one is perfect for teaching littles about where food comes from and big kids can use the free printable observation chart to experiment with the Scientific Method.

Playdough Planet Earth (via Meet the Dubiens) – Your kids will be amazed how easy it is to make a 3D model of the Earth’s crust (and it just looks so darn cool).

DIY Veggie Garden Sensory Box – Whenever I post this, I get two distinct reactions. One camp loves it right away, and the other questions why you would do this with a child instead of planting actual plants.

My answer is that you don’t do it instead of planting, you do it along with planting. Young kids learn a lot through dramatic play and this is a great opportunity to utilize that while they’re waiting for their actual plants to grow. And they’ll love the sensory component too – spending lots and lots of time digging in! Read More

Ok, so the Modern Parents Messy Kids instagram account isn’t technically new but – to be honest – my passion for it is!

I initially set up the account a couple of years ago and then just kind of let it sit there, updating whenever I remembered (which wasn’t often). But not anymore.

I’ve totally gotten into the art of instagram over the last month and I’m having so much fun over there! I love it because it’s a platform that allows me to share a lot of the little things I think will really brighten your day, hit you with a dose of inspiration, or just make you laugh.

Come join us on instagram for funny/inspiring quotes, mom hacks and more!

And it’s working! Since starting to really have fun over there, my readers have more than doubled in the last month.

So if you appreciate a good mom hack or just need to laugh while you’re in the trenches each day:

I encourage you to come join us!

Parenting in the digital world is something that has been on my mind SO much lately. I’ve been wondering about everything from the best apps to keep my kids safe online and what kind of screen time limits to enforce, to how my own phone use affects my kids.

That last one is a doozy and has been especially worrying me lately as my job is online so I’m definitely on my phone more than I’d like… In fact, after I read this list from our in-house children’s librarian, Janssen, I raced to get the audible version of The Big Disconnect.

I’ll try to give you guys an update in the newsletter soon!

(P.S. Listening to parenting books is the only way I find time to actually read them. Right now Amazon is running a special where you can try Audible with two free books of your choice here.) Here’s Janssen with the goods…

A few weeks ago, my five-year-old daughter looked up from her book and asked, “Mom, what’s a dial tone?”

If you’d ever like to feel a thousand years old, this is one quick way.

I got my first email account when I was thirteen, which I shared with my two sisters, and Facebook didn’t exist until I was in college. My first cell phone had exactly one game on it (Snakes, anyone?) and I didn’t get an iPhone until I’d been married for six years.

It’s going to be very different for my children, and one of my jobs as a parent is to figure out how to help them develop a safe and healthy relationship with technology, from deciding when they get their first phone to setting limits on video games and helping them avoid being the target (or perpetrator) of cyberbullying.

Of course, like any good librarian, the first place I look for advice is from a good book. Here are eight to help you navigate the complicated digital road ahead!

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age 

by Catherine Steiner-Adair and Teresa H. Barker

This book is one of the best I’ve read on parenting in the digital age. Steiner-Adiar draws on her clinical work and research to demonstrate how constant access to the Internet and world at large is splintering families and erasing meaningful parent-child connections, resulting in children who feel alone.

She describes what children and teens really want from their parents and how to create the family bonds that parents and children long for. I like this book because not only does it focus on how technology use affects young people, but also how parent use can affect the family dynamic and alienate children.

It can be unpleasant to see yourself reflected in the parents who are addicted to their devices but it’s also eye-opening to see what an impact you can make by changing your own habits and the influence it will have on your own children’s behavior.

Parenting in the Digital World: A Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Safety

by Clayton Cranford

If you feel completely overwhelmed by all the social media apps and sites available to your children and teens, this book is just the help you need. It carefully goes through Read More

Jessica is back today discussing her parenting style when it comes to extracurricular activities. More specifically, her experience enrolling her son in a martial arts program at age 4.

When and where to start enrolling your kids in activities has to be one of the most personal choices of parenting.

There doesn’t actually seem to be a lot of routinely recited advice on the topic (other than to always, always – Dear God, Always! – be weary of over-scheduling). So I love to see what other families are doing and how it’s working for them.

Here’s Jessica…

Our four year old is kind of a pistol, and between his late August birthday, our decision to delay kindergarten and my work-from-home situation, he’s going to end up starting preschool much later than his two older siblings did. That was our choice, but it started to become a bit of an issue a few months ago.

He was bored, you see, and he needed some kind of structure I wasn’t giving him because I was eyebrow-deep in website content and deadlines.

So while the plan for preschool was next fall, when his brother and sister go back after summer break, we gave him a choice:

Preschool or karate. Read More

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

We’ve got such a cool tool to share with you guys today from our newest sponsor, OurPact.

I really, really think you’re going to find it to be one of the most valuable apps you own– and it’s free!

Kristin is going to go into lots of detail below, but in a nutshell this genius app gives parents the ability to control exactly when, and how long, their kids can use the apps, or the internet on their phones AND to block any apps they deem inappropriate.

I also really love the free Family Contract the company put together to use with the app (make sure you scroll down and download it!). It’s such a useful tool for starting important conversations about safe and responsible use of technology with our kids.

Seriously, why hasn’t this been around longer?! Here’s Kristin with all the details…

Remember that feeling you got running alongside your child on their bike and you let go to see them soar alone for the first time? It was unbeatable.

Before solo bike riding, many kids use a balance bike, then a tricycle and finally training wheels. Each step puts them one step closer to being able to ride a bike on their own.  And when you see their smile at the end of that day, you know you’ve done a good job with the process. 

Just as important- each important step was taken to ensure they are safe and eventually independent.

We were thinking about training wheels the other day while talking to our 12 year old, J.  She is such a great kid.  She always listens to our instruction and is generally cautious.

Nevertheless, as she’s grown my husband and I have realized we don’t want to send her off into this digital world alone.  There’s danger lurking behind every corner and when kids don’t have 40 years of life experience like we do, they can easily get caught up into trouble. 

Along with wanting to protect J from possible danger on the internet, we also want to teach her balance when it comes to technology. 

Like most tweens, she loves being on her phone.  She loves all the fun apps that are pumped out every month and would be happy to spend hours and hours on her phone.  So, we have been discussing some guidelines with her about how to make the internet a safe place to hang out and how to help her enjoy technology without becoming addicted.

Just like riding a bike, we’ve been taking baby steps towards this goal, but we’re still in the process.

One of our biggest issues has been managing the time J spends on technology.  While I’d love to say that we set a timer every time she’s using it, that just isn’t always the case.  I find myself asking her, “How long have you been playing?”  

The answer can be vague.

So I was thrilled to hear about an app called OurPact that helps bridge the gap between parenting and technology. 

Here’s a short video showing the free OurPact app in action:

We discovered that one of the many things the app does is Read More

It’s officially spring and that can only mean two things. First, it’s also officially spring cleaning time. Second (and decidedly more fun), Spring Break is coming!

Whether the idea of cleaning, sprucing and organizing fills you with glee or with dread – I’ve got an awesome offering today to help you get it done quickly AND to enjoy all the extra free time with the kids.

We’re offering an extremely limited time, “Save Your Spring” Bundle on our most popular PDF products.

Get $8 off when you buy them together – that’s getting one of the printable packs for free!

This is such a good deal on all three of our most requested printables, that we can only offer the discount to each reader for 24 hours!

The deal will not be available again for another 12 months!


Limited Time Offer:


Click here for the Spring Cleaning & Spring Break Flash Sale – 1 Day Only! 

Three of our most popular products, each at 30% off:

  • The Project Organize Your ENTIRE life 2016 Printables Pack – 38 PDF pages in all
  • The Camp Mom Activities Pack PDF –  An 84 page PDF perfect for keeping the kids busy over spring and summer breaks!
  • The Kids’ Responsibilities & Money Management Printables Pack routine charts, chore charts, allowance ledgers and more to teach your kids all about the benefits of autonomy, family contribution, money smarts, and a giving heart!

Bought separately, these PDFs would be $25.97 but through this special new kind of sale we’re trying out… for the next 24 hours only you can get them all for only $17.97!



These kits are just what you need to finally get organized and have some fun this spring!

I’ve sold thousands of these printables to overwhelmed parents and I’ve heard from so many of them that they really are making a difference in their day-to-day experiences with their kids.

Loving my printables. Absolutely perfect. Job well done!!!!

– Christia Colquitt

I am simply amazed at this! You did such a great job and your design is genius. Simple. Bright. I’m sure it’s effective…
Awesome job! I’ve already pinned and I’m definitely buying.

-Lindsey Loo

Our 2016 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and more are all designed with you in mind.

They’ll help both you and your kids get organized and even introduce the kiddos to important money management concepts including saving, budgeting, and giving back.

We know how busy you are. The goal of all of these printables is not to have to learn a whole new system but simply to help you streamline your everyday tasks. If we can do it with some cheerful colors and pretty fonts – then that’s just icing on the cake.

All that and with the Camp Mom Activities Pack you’ll already have your Spring Break activities with the kids planned too!

In case you’re not familiar with the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life products, here’s a little more on each of them. (You might want to get comfortable – this bundle contains A TON of great stuff!)

First up is  Read More

It’s Friday- you made it! Before you sign off for the weekend, though, we’ve got a couple of hacks you can use during (what can be) two of the most stressful tasks for parents: preparing dinner and going on a long family road trip.

Are you going anywhere for Spring Break this year?

Make sure you read our 15 Tips for a Great Family Road Trip– it’s filled with so many genius apps for everything from playing Road Trip Bingo to finding the coolest stops along the way, plus a super cool way to keep the kids’ stuff within reach in any vehicle.

So that’s the road trip. For dinner, here’s our contributor Kristin with the new kitchen tool we’re totally smitten with…

Have you heard of the Instant Pot, yet? 

Instant Pot is a smart electric pressure cooker that speeds up cooking by 2-6 times using up to 70% less energy.

This crazy little tool is actually 7 things in 1– a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning Cooker, Yogurt Maker, and a Steamer/Warmer. 

And did we mention? It’s basically a slow cooker on steroids– in that it cooks everything crazy, super fast! Green peas, sweet corn and baby carrots can be steamed in 2 to 3 minutes, fresh or frozen.

Just like the toaster and the microwave, the Instant Pot has become one of those kitchen essentials I can’t live without. A Godsend tool that truly makes my life easier.

If you haven’t caught on to the Instant Pot craze yet, you can this is a great one to get started with trust me, it’ll be one of the best kitchen investments you’ve ever made.

Just about any recipe can be adapted into an Instant Pot recipe, but to make your life easier, we’ve compiled our top 21 favorite Instant Pot dinner ideas below.

Many of these are as easy as throwing a few ingredients into the pot and waiting 10 minutes for dinner.

Some of the recipes involve a couple of steps but, seriously, plan on cutting your dinner making time in half.  (We’ve even included a couple of recipes for dessert!)

21 Family-Friendly Instant Pot Recipes

1.  Taste of Hawaii Enchilada Casserole

2.  EPressureCooker Pressure Cooker French Fries

3.  EPressureCooker Chicken Soup and Rice

4.  Serious Eats Chicken Chile Verde Read More

I was telling a friend recently that I don’t feel like I ever suffered from “pregnancy brain” during my three pregnancies, but I definitely have “mom brain.” 

Between three little kids, a new house that needs a fair amount of updating, a small business, and all the regular household tasks like laundry, library books, grocery shopping, and dance classes, I feel like things are always falling between the cracks.

I’m always looking for things that make managing my life a little easier and less complicated, so I was delighted to hear about Lowe’s smart house system, Iris.

I admit that even if something is going to save me time in the long-run, I’m hesitant about investing the time to set it up and learn how to use it, but Iris made it so easy on me.

You start with the Iris Smart Hub and the Iris app, and you can control everything from there. You can pick from more than 60 Iris products so you can create a custom smart home that gives you exactly what you want, whether it’s:

  • controlling the thermostat
  • seeing when your children get home from school
  • scheduling your coffee maker to turn on while you’re in the shower (is that cool or what?!)

Smart Hub

You’re not paying for systems that you won’t use, but if things change down the road, you can easily add in more features, like a care pendant if an elderly family member moves in with you, or additional smart plugs if you decide you want the ability to control all your floor and table lamps from your phone (I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten into bed, turned off our light, and realized that we’ve left the basement lamp on and have to get out of bed and go turn it off).

Plus, Iris is so affordable and you don’t have to hire someone to come install it for you – you can do it all yourself in no time at all.

I love that I can turn off my kindergartener’s reading light from my bed after she’s fallen asleep in her Mercy Watson book or have the ceiling fans automatically turn on when the temperature rises in the afternoons.

It’s just one less thing that I have to think about or check on manually, and it’s those little extra things off my mind that make me feel significantly less frazzled and more on top of my life.

Smart Fob

Check back next month and I’ll show which Iris products I picked for my home and how easy they are to install yourself.

*This post is sponsored by Lowe’s, all opinions are 100% my own.

Easter! Do you have your baskets ready yet?!

If not, no worries, get your 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime’s 2-Day Shipping and use our recipe for getting your baskets put together STAT:

  1. Check out this roundup of our resident children’s librarians’ all-time favorite Easter books and pick up your favorite
  2. Add one or two picks from our list of Easter toys that promote creativity
  3. Roll up and insert our free Easter play dough mats (see below)
  4. Fill a few plastic eggs with our super soft Jell-O play dough in fun colors and you’re done!

For more info. on #3 and #4, check out Kaley’s tutorial from last year…

I usually try to keep our Easter basket pretty simple, stay away from candy and sweets, and instead include art supplies or other creativity-boosting materials.

This year, I will be including my daughter’s all time favorite play dough, and a fun play dough mat to go with it.

This took me just about an hour to make (including making the play dough), only cost a few dollars, and will keep her entertained for hours. And the best part is there will be no post-Easter sugar crash from too much chocolate.

Free printables for Easter play dough mats plus a recipe for Jell-O play dough easter eggs.

 To make your own play dough eggs and play dough mat:

  • Make a few batches of different colored play dough using my Jell-O play dough recipe.
  • Roll a small chunk of playdough into a ball and place it into a plastic Egg.

Playdough filled Easter eggs - perfect Easter basket filler! Post also has free printable play dough Easter mats.

Sign up for our newsletter here to have the Easter Play Dough Mats instantly sent to you:

  • Print the free Easter egg play dough mats on plain white paper or cardstock.
  • Either laminate the play dough mats or place them into page protectors.
  • Put the play dough eggs and the play dough mats into your child’s basket.

The play dough mats will keep your little ones entertained for hours! Read More

I recently had a serious energy crash (I’m talking could barely get myself up off the couch to do anything for days and days kind of crash). To get myself out of it, I did a lot of research on things like The Adrenal Re-set Diet.

In the end, one of the HUGEST factors for me finding my energy again was simply to start eating vegetables all. day. long. 

My goal is seriously to have some sort of vegetable pretty much every time I eat. As you can imagine, this is not always easy! So today I’ve asked our contributor Kristin to help with a roundup of 30 doable ways to eat your veggies all day long.

Even if you’re the world’s-healthiest-eater, it can still be hard to get in all the recommended vegetable servings in a day.

Let’s face it, fruit just tastes better.

But before you give up on meeting your daily vegetable eating goals, take a look at the list we put together.  It has 30 easy ways that you can help vegetables taste amazing, use them as substitutes for bread and pasta or even sneak them into other foods.

Just slightly tweaking your diet can really boost your energy and give your body all the vitamins and nutrients it needs.

Read More

Last month I announced I’m trying to go more non-toxic at home. I intend to cover a lot, beauty products, self-care products, cleaning products and, of course, your bed.

In fact, I’m starting off with the bed and I’m sure you can guess why.

Because of the huge amount of our lives that we spend there, of course. This makes it so, so important that everything about these comfy sanctuaries are designed to support and nurture our health!

As you may have guessed by now, I recently got a brand new bed with all of this in mind and, let me tell you, I adore it. I really, really do.

Which is important because not only do I spend (in a perfect world) 8 hours a night sleeping on it, I also spend about 20 hours a week working there too.

I’m going to get into crazy, glorious detail all about the new non-toxic mattress that my husband and I are now huge converts of… in a few weeks. But for today, let me start with the gorgeous non-toxic linens that are adorning it.

Are you guys familiar with the amazing line of non-toxic bedding from Parachute?


How do I love them, let me count the ways…


All of the pieces are Oeko-Tex certified, meaning they’re free of harmful chemicals and synthetics. Safer for you, your littles and the environment.

Straight Up Style

The luxury bedding is 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton, made in Italy, and every bit as wonderful as that sounds. They sent me the classic Venice set in Percale white (top image and middle image above) and they are seriously the most comfortable sheets I’ve ever had.

I love how there’s a subtle texture/weight to the stonewash cotton that makes it look even better straight out of the dryer and slightly wrinkled. And can we talk about the envelope enclosure shams please?

Seriously the best thing ever. No more slumpy looking pillows! This is the game changer that has finally giving me that classic hotel chic bed I’ve always wanted.

Also the linen duvet and quilt in Fog. Go check it out for yourself- so, so lovely.

They’re Good People

The company is focused on people. First, it gives customers free shipping, free returns and 30 days to try out the goods.

Second, for every Venice Set purchased, Parachute will donate a life-saving malaria net to Nothing But Nets.

I’m not sure what more there is to say. If you’re in the market for some new bedding, try them out. You won’t be sorry (and if you are, you can get a hassle-free refund within 30 days)… I’m typing on them right now and I think it’s time for a short nap!

More from our “1 Year to a Non-Toxic Home” Series

An App to Help You Finally Go Non-Toxic at Home

Whether you typically celebrate Easter with a fancy breakfast, a traditional ham dinner, or something in between, we can all use a short cut here and there to make meal prep easier, right? And what could be easier than setting it and forgetting it in a crock pot while you go on an egg hunt with the kids?

Today we’ve rounded up a dozen delicious (and kinda genius) slow cooker dishes perfect for your Easter table.

There are some classics, like carrot cake and honey glazed ham, that I didn’t know you could make in a slow cooker as well as some sure-to-be new favorites. Personally, I can’t wait to try out the monkey bread with my family this year.


Breakfast Foods

Read More

What’s your parenting style when it comes to kids and TV ? It’s so much more simple when your kids are really young isn’t it? When you can turn on Sesame Street every once in a while and they’re happy?

Can’t we just stay in this place forever? According to our parenting contributor, Jessica, no- no we cannot. But that doesn’t mean we’re without power.

Here she is with her take on the dreaded “Tween TV”. She’s got some pretty strong feelings on the subject. I’m curious, what’s your take? Is she absolutely right or is it really not that big of a deal?

When I was in sixth and seventh grade, I palled around with a group of girls who had older sisters – eighth and nine graders, and the height of sophistication and maturity to us – and we did our damnedest to copy every little thing they did.

So when they started watching Beverly Hills 90210 and going on about Brenda and Kelly and Dylan, well, we couldn’t get on board fast enough.

I raced home to tell my mom all about this amazing show with these super cool high school kids who lived in California and drove convertibles and had bad-boy boyfriends. The more secondhand details I excitedly laid out, the less impressed she looked.

“It sounds a little inappropriate to me,” she said, but she agreed Read More