mindful living, effortless style

Here’s something fun – MPMK is moonlighting over on The Home Depot’s site, The Apron Blog.  

Lots of helpful ideas on how to make a cleaning station for kids and get them involved with helping out - love the look too!

They recently asked us to guest post on some of our favorite tricks for keeping things fresh and clean with a new baby at home – a topic that’s right up my alley these days!

This DIY kids’ cleaning station makes it fun for older siblings to help out and I’m totally in love with both the form and function of this clever space.

How cute is this idea for keeping baby toys clean?  Such an easy 2 step process for keeping germs away after a play date!

In fact, all 10 of the ideas our home-life and playtime contributor, Kaley, put together are stellar (if I do say so myself). They include:

  • the oh-so-clever cleaning-themed new baby gift shown up top
  • the best way to clean a high chair
  • a genius two-step process for keeping baby toys clean, especially after play dates
  • how to naturally deodorize a changing station
  • the best plants to purify the air in the nursery
  • how to get nearly any stain out of a onesie

And more! Check out all of Kaley’s tips and tricks here and have a great weekend.

Need some great kid art and creativity ideas? Look no further. I’m super excited to introduce you guys to Rachelle today.  Her blog, TinkerLab, is an AMAZING resource for growing creative, innovative, critical thinking kids.  

What I love most about Rachelle is that despite her impressively intimidating credentials (has a Masters in Arts Education from Harvard, oversaw school programs at the San Jose Museum of Art, lectures on Visual Thinking Strategies at Stanford University, and worked on films with Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures – just to name a few), she also has a total knack for teaching parents how to get their kids thinking and creating using quick and easy-to-implement techniques.  

Today she’s here teaching us all about how to set-up invitations to createOnce you get the basics of this concept you can use it to set up an unlimited amount of art activities for your littles – which will come in very handy during your next school break or rainy afternoon, I promise!

Thank you so much for inviting me to share some ideas from our Creative Table with your readers!

Are you interested in raising your child in a creative environment? Could you use some quick and simple ideas for hands-on making that also encourage creative and critical thinking skills to emerge?

Almost two years ago, we started a series of posts on TinkerLab that introduce children to a limited number of inspiring materials as an invitation to create. We call this series Creative Table, and I’m excited to share it with you today.

What is an Invitation to Create?

This is essentially a carefully designed prompt or provocation to make something. One person sets up materials in an inviting way, and another person makes something from them.

You can think of this as a sort of game with just a few rules. Adults can step in to offer suggestions or ideas, but the child should mostly be encouraged to find her own way.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Clear the table of anything that won’t be used in the invitation. Read More

Image Credit: © Suzette Pauwels (text & graphic added) | 01.01.11 | CC by 2.0

Are you a positive discipline disciple? If so, you’re going to love today’s post!

Another of my blogging buddies, Amanda from Not Just Cute, is stepping in while I continue on maternity leave and she’s sharing a wonderful method for dealing with problem behaviors in a positive and effective manner… And make sure you don’t miss the extra-helpful printable for trying the techniques out in your home.  

If you’ve been a reader here for a while, then you probably recognize Amanda – she’s my go-to parenting resource.  Her blog on intentional whole child development is a fantastic resource for parents and I highly recommend you visit (and bookmark) it today!

“I’ve told him a million times!”

It’s an exasperated complaint I’ve heard frequently from both parents and teachers of young children. They’ve corrected a behavior again and again, and yet it persists. The only change that seems to be occurring is the increase in the adults’ blood pressure!

It seems like willful disobedience. (Or at best, a frustrating case of amnesia.)

But let’s take a look at a few things that will change your perspective and help you make actual progress when you find yourself in a similar situation.

First, a little perspective.

What has it been like for you to change your own behaviors? Personally, I know I’ve been told “a million times” that all I have to do to get into the best shape of my life is to hit the gym at 5 am and stop hitting the chocolate chips at 5 pm.

Simple, right? I mean, I have been told “a million times”, so I should just be able to do it.

But for some reason, I’m quick to hit the snooze on my alarm and slow to put down the chocolate when that familiar craving hits. Read More

I love Easter.

One of the reasons I love it so much is that it heralds the arrival of spring. And after this winter, I think most of us could use a little spring.

(I won’t lie – I love the chocolate too).

Plus, my little girls love all things related to rabbits and baby chicks.

These eight titles are perfect additions to your Easter collection,whether you buy them or check them out from the local library: Read More

Up-cycled or recycled planters are the perfect Earth Day activity for kids, which is coming up April 22nd (only 2 days after Easter so don’t blink and miss it).

It incorporates two earth-friendly activities – up-cycling AND planting – plus this particular version involves goggley eyes and what kid doesn’t love those?

Check out my full tutorial over on eHow’s Mom Channel.

For More Earth-Friendly Kid Activities, Check Out:

I’m so happy to have Jenna from Small Fry here today while I continue on my maternity leave.  

Small Fry is such a fresh, clean, inspiring site for modern mamas – I totally adore their craft ideas, recipes, and product recommendations… It’s a definite must-read!

Hi MPMK friends! I’m SO excited that Stephanie asked me to guest post for her while she’s away. This is such a beautiful space and I love reading MPMK daily!

I blog over at Small Fry, which is a children’s lifestyle blog… come and visit us some time.

As a busy mom of two boys, I find it really difficult to come up with new ways to get our family to eat different foods. We are dairy free in our household due to allergies so that adds to the challenge.

One very simple way I have found to get my kids to try new foods is to make them fun, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Read More

With Easter just a few weeks away, it is the perfect time to start thinking about Easter baskets! I usually try to keep the 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. Read More

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