Posted in Babies and Toddlers, Busy Families, Homeschool, Preschool, Sensory Play

No-Prep Toddler Zipper & Button Practice

This activity really couldn’t be much easier.

All you need to do is find an assortment of jackets and/or bags around your home that have large buttons or zippers. Even better if you can include items with unique buttons or different types of clasps.

I took mine and put them in a pile for T to explore. I spent a few minutes showing him how they each worked, and after that he wanted to take charge and practice his new skills.

Happy busy toddler; happy parent 🙂

Posted in Activities for Babies and Toddlers, Babies and Toddlers, Busy Families

10 Toddler Activities that Require No Prep for Busy Families

Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am ADDICTED to Pinterest. Let’s face it, Pinterest is amazing. What I love most about it is all of the awesome DIY activities for kids.

The difficulty that I have, however, is the following:

  1. I am not a naturally crafty person, so I really relate to a lot of those “Pinterest fail” photos online.
  2. Time, time, time! Even the simplest crafts, DIY toys, and many of the activities take more time that I (most of the time) realistically have.

So, if I can find no-prep activities with household items, I am all for them! I have not been able to find as many as I would like on Pinterest, so here is a list of my own created no-prep activities for babies and toddlers.

  1. Sensory Basket– Basically just fill a basket (or box, or just lay it all on the floor, whatever) with a ton of baby/toddler safe items from around the house for your little one to explore. I sometimes like to do this around a theme. For example, I might have a kitchen themed basket for them to explore while I cook, that contains measuring cups, plastic kid utensils, a spatula, tongs, etc. This allows your tot to safely explore items of your choosing, and they can get creative as to how to play with those items.
  2. Button and Zipper Practice – There are a ton of great DIY toys to make that give your toddler plenty of practice with buttons and zippers, but why make those when you can just give them an assortment of items from around the house to practice those skills with?
  3. Dance Time! – Just turn on music and have them dance!
  4. Coloring– This one seems super obvious, but I feel like no one ever mentions it…
  5. Singing Nursery Rhymes– Especially those that have hand movements with them such as The Wheels on the Bus or 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed can be super entertaining.
  6. Book Basket– This simple no-prep activity also encourages a love of books. Check out more about it in my post:  Why Your Toddler Should Have a Book Basket 
  7. Toys!– Seriously, another super obvious one that is never mentioned. Pretty much the entire purpose of toys from a parent’s perspective is to give their little one something to play with, obviously…
  8. Pretend Play– T loves pretending to be a T-rex. Pretend play is no-prep, free, and has endless possibilities.
  9. Play with the Pets– This one depends a little bit on how old your child is, but pets are meant to be played with and loved, and talking/petting them is no-prep and free 🙂
  10. Stacking– Have your little one practice stacking things to make a tower. Blocks, boxes, toilet paper, Tupperware, cups, and so on.
Posted in Busy Families

The Guide to Survival Mode Cleaning for Busy Families 

In the perfect world our children would never throw tantrums, there would always be a home cooked meal for all three meals of the day, and our homes would be spotless. However, we live in the real world…

When life gets crazy, we need to do what we can to scale back and simplify things in order to regain some control and not get overwhelmed. To that end, here is my Guide to Survival Mode Cleaning.  

Basically, you need to prioritize. If you need any help with this step, then go ahead and check out my post about an awesome To Do list strategy I use:

Step 1: Figure out your non-negotiables. These are the things that HAVE to get done daily. Example – feed the dog.

Step 2: Figure out your basic cleaning needs that need to get done just for your home to be able to run at all. For most this will include the following:

  • Dishes
  • Clean food related messes (stove, microwave, etc.)
  • Counters and dining table
  • Laundry
  • Empty trash

If you are in full survival mode than steps 1 and 2 are all that should be concerning you right now. When things calm down for you but are still fairly busy, then check out the remaining steps below. 

Step 3: Typical cleaning list. This list contains items that you may normally hope to get done at least weekly. Things like clean the bathroom, or moping the floors.

It may look something like this:

  • Sunday- laundry
  • Monday- bathrooms
  • Tuesday- vacuum
  • Wednesday-pet cages
  • Thursday-empty all trash
  • Friday- clean room
  • Saturday- dust

I hope this helps you figure out what will work for you and your family. Best of luck; hang in there!

Posted in Busy Families, School Age Kids

5 Ways to Get Your Kid to Tell You About Their Day

5 Ways to Get Your Kid to Tell You About Their Day

Do you ever ask your kid what they did in school, and they reply something along the lines of, “nothing”?

The most common cause of this: you are asking the wrong question.

It is a natural part of human development for adolescents to stop working so hard for your attention, but that does not mean you should not give it. Here are some techniques you might have some more luck with.

  1. Be specific. Ex- “What did you learn about today in ___(math, English, etc.)?”
  2. Ask follow up questions. Ex- “Nothing? Was there no adult in the room? Did you just stare at the wall?” Hey, nothing wrong with poking fun at such a response.
  3. “What was your favorite part of school today? Why? What was your least favorite? Why?”
  4. If they have a bedtime, then ask about their day just before it. If they are the type to want to resist their given bedtime at all, then they will be way more likely to open up and talk to you at this time than they will right after school.
  5. Be genuine. Really listen to what they say, and respect their feelings.

I hope these tips help you to build a deeper relationship with your teen kids.

Posted in Busy Families

The Time Management Hack You NEED to Know!

The Time Management Hack You NEED to Know

“When God made time he made enough of it.” ~Irish Proverb 

This quote becomes my mantra on crazy busy days (so, pretty much ever day, haha!). I often feel like a chicken with its head cut off- running around  with too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

I found this AWESOME time management hack that some teachers often use with young students: the Must Do May Do list.

This is a to-do list that has everything prioritized. For my list I also add an “Eventually” column. The columns work like this:

Must Do: Theses are things that HAVE to get done TODAY. As in, there will be consequences if they do not get done today, example- pay your phone bill. Things on this list get done first.

May Do: These are also very important things that need to get done, but it’s okay if they can wait a few days to get done if need be. These things get done after the Must Do list is finished. 

Eventually: This list contains things you would like to get done, but they may not be super important at the moment. These things get done on the very rare occasion that you find that both your Must Do and your May Do list are done.

Must Do

It’s a good idea to make your Must Do May Do Eventually list either before bed or early in the morning so you can get started on getting things done asap. I also noticed that I felt a lot more productive with this list than the traditional to-do list, because even if not a lot of items got checked off I still got done a number of the super important must-do things that I had.

Try it out for a week before deciding for yourself, but I am sure this time management hack will help you feel more productive (and hopefully less stressed) each day!

Posted in Babies and Toddlers, Baby and Toddler Food, Busy Families

Toddler Snack Tray

Toddler Snack Tray

Now here is a concept that I LOVE: the toddler snack tray.

All it is is a muffin tray (I prefer a mini muffin tray). Fill each section with snacks for your tot, and ta-da! T gets super excited whenever I pull out his tray.

Other great uses: filling the tray with finger foods for your one-year-old, and/or filling it with new foods for your tot- somehow the tray makes the food look more appealing and they are more likely to try something new out of it ;).