how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

 

Oh, friends.

How things change as our kids get older, right?

After years of doing what we can to give our kids choices, listening to them, doing all we can but ultimately having the final say–our kids have expressed to us that they want more of a voice in our family.

I get it.

So we’ve been having Family Meetings.

We have only recently begun to have regular Family Meetings, and though they are not perfect, I do think they help.’

We’re still learning. Aren’t we all?

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Have a Family Meeting–What Works for Us: 

It’s been simple.

I created a pretty basic Family Meeting Sheet.

And any time anyone wants to call a Family Meeting, he or she may do so.

The first time we held one, I clipped the Family Meeting sheet onto a clip board, and I set it on the table.

And as the kids came and went through the day, they filled it out.

By the time the meeting rolled around, everyone was ready–and curious.

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

We said,

Okay, guys. So you’ve asked for more say in our family, so here we are. We’re here to work out the kinks and hopefully make things move more smoothly around here.

There are a few ground rules: 

  • Everyone listens.
  • Everyone speaks.
  • Everyone acts respectfully, no matter what.

In Lord of the Flies style, anyone who spoke held an object–I think ours was a stuffed Mario or Yoshi. That way, there was no interrupting and only listening.

And really? From that point on, we talked through the agenda–what my husband and I planned and what the kids added–and we worked out the kinks.

 

family meeting notice blank

family meeting notice blank | teachmama.com

Here’s a BLANK Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice blank | teachmama.com

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

 

family meeting notice 2

family meeting notice OURS | teachmama.com

Here’s our Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice OURS | teachmama.com

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

how to have a family meeting  teachmama.com

 

What does your family do? Do you hold regular Family Meetings? I’d love to hear it!

What has worked? What hasn’t?

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella

must-have conversation after taking your kids to see cinderella

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must-have conversation after taking your kids to see cinderella

Last Friday, we saw Cinderella.

The new and improved Cinderella from Disney.

And it was gorgeous. It was beautiful.

From start to finish, the characters were beautiful, the setting was beautiful. The dress. The dress was beautiful. The glass slippers? Beautiful.

And the end? It’s picture-perfect.

It’s a fairy tale ending, just like we all wanted.

Every little girl I know will want to see it. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Which is why I truly believe that there’s a must-have conversation every family must have after taking kids to see Cinderella.

Here’s the skinny. . .

The Must-Have Conversation Every Family Must Have After Taking Kids to See Cinderella: 

First, let me be clear: I get Cinderella.

I know the story.

I saw the animated movie.

I have shared them both with my kids well before we saw the new movie. I know it’s a fairy tale, and I know how it ends.

And I’m not expecting miracles.

But perhaps Elsa is fresh on my mind since we’re all still defrosting from Frozen fever.  Elsa was a rockstar in the way she works out her personal struggles without the help of anyone other than her sister.  And in the end, she learns to control her powers and run a country.

Maybe I just over-loved Tiana who saves pennies in a cofollows her lifelong dream to open a restaurant.  As an entrepreneur, I want my girls to know that they can do anything they set their mind to.

Brave’s Merida was so full of adventure and drive, and I loved her refusal to fit into her family’s preconceived molds.  She set out to follow her own destiny, learning some serious life lessons along the way.

Are these three Disney princess perfect? Not at all. But they’re fresh on my mind, being that they are the more recent additions to the Disney princess club.

As we were walking out of the theater last week, after hearing all of the oooooohs and ahhhhhhhs and wishful conversations among movie-goers, I wanted to remind all of the parents to talk to their daughters about a few things.  Really.

Please parents, after watching Cinderella, tell your daughters:

You are beautiful.

You. Are. Beautiful.

Your healthy body is beautiful. You have strong legs that take you everywhere, that allow you to run, jump, flip, bike, ice-skate, rollerskate, and play.  You have strong arms that you use to build structures, make forts, string bracelets, paint pictures, and design your dreams; your arms and hands allow you to write notes, type stories, do handstands and cartwheels.

God gave you one body, and you take care of it well.  You. Are. Beautiful.

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella | teachmama.com 1

You are smart.

You. Are. Smart.

You read, you listen, and you think. You are questioning and curious. You work hard on your homework until you understand it, and you take your school work seriously. You are a coveted classmate for projects and assignments; your friends know you are a hard worker and that your creative, innovative ideas will get your project done well.

You figure things out. You follow directions. You can do things on your own, and if you can’t, you ask for help. You. Are. Smart.

You are strong.

You. Are. Strong.

You are strong whether I am with you or not, whether your dad is with you or not.

You are strong by yourself, wherever you are, whomever you are with. You are strong in or out of our house, in the summer or winter, in the spring or fall. You are strong whether you have hair or no hair, phone or no phone, toys or no toys.

You are strong no matter what you are wearing and no matter what you think. You. Are. Strong.

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella | teachmama.com 1

You are kind.

You. Are. Kind.

You have more kindness in your pinky finger than more people have in their whole body.

You always think about other people.  You write sweet notes to friends. You wrap beautiful, homemade gifts. You take care of our pets, and you help around our house. You are giving, and you care about how people feel.  You. Are. Kind.

Now, think about the movie. Sure, Cinderella was beautiful and ‘courageous and kind’ like her mom said, but really, there are some things you need to know. 

Cinderella was wearing a corset to make her waist look super tiny.

Cinderella–along with all of the women in the movie–was wearing costumes that made her body look different.

The were wearing corsets. Or girdles. Or something like that.

A corset is something that women wore long ago to hold in their stomachs, to make them look more like an hourglass. Corsets are kind of like the top part of an ice-skate but around your waist. The laces are pulled super-super tight in the middle and a little more loose at the top and bottom so the hips and breasts look bigger. In olden days, people actually had fainting couches and fainting rooms because women were barely able to breathe wearing these corsets–often they fainted.

Can you even imagine? Think about how hard that must have been. Think about how tough it would have been for those ladies to walk down the street in a corset, let alone dance, run, jump, or play.

cinderella post | teachmama.com

Cinderella did not need to take that awful treatment from her stepmother or stepsisters.

I mean it. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.

It’s one thing to be courageous and kind, but it’s another to be a total pushover.

Cinderella could have said something like,

Hey, I don’t appreciate the way you’re making fun of me right in front of my face. It’s not nice, and I won’t stand for it. Or. . .

I’m sorry, but I am definitely not going up into the attic for a bedroom. If the sisters want to share my bigger bedroom, that’s fine. I’ll take the smaller one. But the attic? No way.  Or. . .

Really? Do you honestly feel good about sending me to eat alone in the kitchen? No, sorry. I’m eating at this table with you guys. So. How’s the weather?   Or. . .

Um, nope. I’m not cool with tying your shoes. I can help you loosen your corset and then you can tie your own shoes. Thankyouverymuch.  Or. . .

I don’t care what you think about this dress. It was my mom’s, and even if it is a little out-dated or not quite as poofy as yours, it means a lot to me. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m still going to the ball with you. Now, move over, bacon. . . 

cinderella post | teachmama.com

Cinderella could have left the house.

We saw her talking to a girlfriend in the market one day, right? That pal could have helped her get out. But Cinderella had some funny belief that she needed to stay in the house to ‘honor her mother and father’? I don’t believe it. No way. Her parents loved her. Bottom line.

So that means that more than anything, they’d want her happy.

Usually there’s someone who can help you–no matter what situation you’re in, no matter how bad things seem. There’s someone who can help you.  Whether it’s a parent, brother or sister, classmate, neighbor, friend, teacher, or coach–someone can be your lifeline.

Cinderella did not use her lifeline. Clearly.

Cinderella could have done something.

After an amazing, magical, awesome time at the ball, Cinderella just sat in her attic room waiting for . . . what?

What was she waiting for? What was she doing up there after the ball? Was she locked in her room? I can’t even remember.

All I know is this: at that point, Cinderella could have done a dozen other things to change her situation other than just sit there and sing. Right?

Right.

So though she was pretty lucky that the Prince’s guy was there and demanded that they check out the beautiful singing heard from above, life doesn’t always work out that way.

Sometimes–most of the time, actually–you have to take the reigns in your own hands.

And though it’s a whole lot sweeter if you’re courageous and kind, often, you have to do a little more, give a little more, risk a little more.

You’ve got to use your strength and your smarts to steer your own ship.

To plot your own course.

To find your own map.

To paint your own masterpiece.

To buy your own flowers.

To sing your own song.

But I know you can do it, and I love you.

* * * * *

 

 

fyi: I am proud to be a part of the Fandango Family Digital Network and will share a movie-related post quarterly. Parents, check out the deets on Cinderella, including information about the cast and crew, from our friends at Fandango.   Share your #fandangofamily moments for others to see, or check out the Fandango Family Facebook page for fun posts and contests.

I am proud to work with Disney as well. All of the Cinderella images are courtesy of Disney.  Thank you!

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions | teachmama.com

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions | teachmama.com

 

Oh friends. .  .February and March are always so glum for me.

What about you? Do you find that you fall into the winter doldrums this time of the year? If so, let’s power through it together.

Together.

This year, we’ve already done a whole lot of organizing.  YAY!

We’ve rekindled friendships and make relationships a priority. Woo-hooo!

Now is a great time to do some serious thinking and reflecting.

We’re going to figure some stuff out.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–Finding Clarity in Thoughts and Actions: 

So often, our thoughts and actions are not aligned–we think one thing but say another.

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions

We say one thing but do another.

And I truly believe that this is not always intentional. Rather, we’re so busy that we don’t give ourselves enough time to really think things through.

This month, let’s figure it out.

Let’s think about how we really feel and move forward from there, okay?

First, download the March #livefocused printable.

 

find clarity in thoughts and actions | teachmama.com #livefocused

 

You can find it here: live focused printable march – teachmama.com

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

Then find a quiet place to think. 

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  And fill out the sheet.

Essentially, think about: 

What part of your household systems are working?

What needs to change?

How can you improve? 

clarity  livefocused  teachmama.comConsider the following areas: 

  • behavior — the kids’ behavior; your behavior; your spouse’s behavior; what is tolerated and not tolerated; behavior management systems
  • screen time — how much each day; monitoring; safety; sharing; care of devices
  • chores — what chores are done and by whom; rotation of chores; jobs around the house; family responsibilities
  • homework — where homework is completed; who helps with homework; rules and expectations about homework
  • activities — children activities; family activities; costs of activities; practices; child and adult responsibilities
  • communication — communication among family members, friends, and school; what is acceptable and not
  • other — think: religion, relationships; finances; health; jobs; etc.

Fill out the sheet.  And then get ready to make some changes.

This month I’ll share the resources I know of that may help in these areas; if you have others that work, I’d love for you to share them with us!

 

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

Are you in? Let me know, friends. I need to know I’m not walking alone on this journey!

  • share any of the photos here on your facebook page
  • share any of the photos here on your twitter or instagram page
  • share any of the photos here on your google + page or blog!

Tweet this:

  • tweet this: I am ready for some CLARITY this month! Join @teachmama and me: #livefocused bit.ly/TMclarity
  • tweet this: I am psyched to join @teachmama in her #livefocused 2015 adventure! Join me: http://ctt.ec/warK2+
  • tweet this: Do YOU want to live a more focused, intentional life this year? Join the #livefocused crew: http://ctt.ec/ad7NC+ @teachmama
  • tweet this: Make this year COUNT. Get focused. Live intentionally. http://ctt.ec/aq9Vy+ #livefocused @teachmama

Check it all out video-style:

 And? If you don’t already subscribe to teachmama.com’s YouTube channel, you totally want to!

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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click below for #livefocused archives:

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YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

We just got another boatload of snow, so on Sunday morning, when we were snowed in and couldn’t even get out of our house to make it to mass, we got our dance on.

Because why not?

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

Turns out that Cora and Owen’s awesome teachers for the past few years had often put on short little YouTube dances for them when they need to get the wiggles out.

We found most of Cora and Owen’s faves, and we found some more.

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

Not only does moving mid-day help increase concentration and focus (for everyone–not just kids!), but learning and practicing these dances will mean that our kids will be rockstars on the dance floor when it comes time for weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and Quinceaneras in the next few years.

Win, win, win.

Here’s the skinny. . .

YouTube Dances for Kids–Fun Indoor Moving and Grooving to get the Wiggles Out:

Here are our faves:

The Sid Shuffle:

Dino Stomp:

Shake Break:

Mario Dance:

I’m a Gummy Bear:

Awesome Rainbows:

The Wobble:

Macarena:

5 Little Monkeys:

Jump Up:

Exercise Songs:

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 1.17.01 PM


HOW fun are these? Hope your crew enjoys them as much as we did.

Talk about some serious fun–and listening and moving and dancing–right in your own living room.

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

youtube header final stars

 

Do you subscribe to our YouTube channel? Head on over and do it!

We usually add 2-3 videos each month about something fun and crafty and learning. Join us!

finding time for what you love: The Fringe Hours

finding time for what you love: the fringe hours | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

finding time for what you love: The Fringe Hours

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

When I first started this blog seven years ago, I was creating, photographing, writing, and coding in the ‘fringe hours’ of my days.

All day long I was grateful to be with Maddy, Owen, and Cora, hanging out, playing, learning, and doing our thing, but when naptime came, I blogged.

When the kids went to bed, I blogged.

When I had a spare moment to myself, I blogged.

I was proud of the resource I was creating (I still am!), I was in love with the friends I was making (totally still am!), and I was in awe of the community I was building (you better believe I still am!).

the fringe hours

the fringe hours

But as my babies went off to school and my blog became my full-time job, things started to shift.

It was a natural shift, but a shift nonetheless.

Thank goodness for my dear friend Jessica Turner and a book she just published: The Fringe Hours– Making Time for You.

I love it, and I know you will, too.

I love it because it has helped me to rediscover–to reclaim–my fringe hours and to give myself a little more care.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Finding Time for What You Love–‘The Fringe Hours':

The shift for me happened when writing and blogging stopped being a hobby and started being work.

Once I had to sit down and write, to meet deadlines, to organize finances, and to plan activities, I felt less ‘free’ blogging and instead felt more tied down, cranky, and frustrated.

I was always busy! Always.

Still, my fringe hours were spent blogging, but like anyone whose hobbies are put on the backburner for work, I felt. . . blue.

I needed to find time to do the things I loved: running, cooking, yoga, reading.

Over time, I have figured out a bit of a solution, but I always need reminders. I always need new ideas and new solutions to the age old problem: making time for me.

Why you need The Fringe Hours

I have waited for this book to be released ever since I learned that Jessica was writing it.

Having known Jessica for years, I always wanted to learn her ‘secret’ for being able to do it all.  She works full-time. She has three kids (one is a newborn!). She runs a rockstar blog.  She scrapbooks. She reads. She hangs out with her friends.

finding time for what you love: The Fringe Hours

finding time for what you love: The Fringe HoursHow did she do it all?

I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You.

And? This book has not let me down.

Divided into four parts– Explore, Discover, Maximize, & Live Well–each section is filled with actual tangible ideas for living a fuller life and making more time for me. But it’s not about reaching toward a goal of living a self-serving life; rather, the idea is that by making time for ME, I am able to be a better wife, mother, sister, and friend.

the fringe hours

It’s true.

It’s a liberating and exciting book that, with each turn of the page, hit me with bits of information that I really needed to hear. I realized that I am a tried and true ‘wasteful multi-tasker’, often engaging in two tasks at once that both require mental energy.  For real.  It’s not good, friends.

As soon as I read it, I realized that though I thought I was helping myself by fitting more into my day, I was actually creating more stress to an already packed and sometimes stressful life.

Now?

I’m all about being fully present.

I’m more inclined now to make time for what is important for me because doing so leads to ‘greater joy and peace’.

I have learned to be more efficient with my time.

I have learned to let go of a lot and to shift my perspective.

I have printed out The Fringe Hours Manifesto and have it taped to my bathroom mirror–it’s that full of truth for me.

 

This whole book is aligned with what we’re doing in our #livefocused in 2015 push, and I’m thrilled.

I’m thrilled because no matter how you look at it or why you begin, shouldn’t it be our goal to live each day more deliberately, with more focus and intention?

This book is a quick and easy read, and I’m sure that by the time you finish, you’ll find at least a dozen small ways that you can purposefully incorporate a little more ‘me time’ into your day.

And the great thing, my friends, is that you will do so without an ounce of guilt, thanks to Jessica.

The Fringe Hours - Postcards, Set of 6
Check out the book.

Check out some of the cool products that DaySpring is selling which in combination with The Fringe Hours, make a really beautiful and thoughtful gift for a friend, a sister, a mother–anyone.

I particularly love the The Fringe Hours  Postcards and The Fringe Hours Notebooks.  Both are super sweet.

Many thanks, Jessica, for your hard work on this project, and thank you, friends, for making some time for YOU this year!

 

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

live focused: let’s talk about friendship

live focused: let's talk about friendship

I have been incredibly moved and overwhelmed at the response to our #livefocused challenge.

Seriously.

I have received dozens of private messages, emails, and tweets about the fact that this is what so many readers need and want.

Sure, everyone digs the activities that they can do with their kids and how to turn everyday events into learning opportunities, but the whole living focused thing? They need that, too.

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

Not only do they need it, they want it.

So we rocked some serious organization in January–our home, our play spaces, our weeks, our time with kids, our photos, our finances, and more.

This month? We’re talking friendship.

Join us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–Let’s Talk About Friendship: 

I am really, really bad at this, so I’m excited about the focus on friendship for February. I don’t know about you, but I’m more of a friend of convenience than anything. It’s awful.

Growing up, I spent all of my free time with three friends from the ‘hood.

Come grade school, I had a tight group of friends with whom I did everything.

When in high school, my world was my high school bffs, many of whom were my pals from grade school.

In college, I rarely left the sides of my housemates and sorority sisters.

After college, I hung with my colleagues and my (then) boyfriend (now husband).

When my kids were babies, I spent free time with MOMS Club friends.

Now that my kids are in elementary school, I tend to spend time with my kids’ friends’ parents.

I’m not a card person. I’m not a big birthday person. Occasionally if someone is on my mind, I’ll send a totally random, out-of-the-blue card to say ‘hello’, but that’s rare, so don’t be impressed.

live focused 2015 teachmama.com FEB collage

 

All this is fine and natural, right, except that I rarely backtrack. I rarely carve out time to stay in touch with those people with whom I spent hours upon hours upon hours and huge chunks of my life.

People whom I truly love and admire–and miss–but whom I do not connect with on a regular basis.

Often I’m not even sure I am connecting with my husband or my own children like I should; instead I’m busy running, running, running and not really appreciating the amazing spouse that he is or the crazy-cool kids that they are.

 

 

So this month, though I’m not expecting to miraculously reconnect with all people from all parts of my life, I am going to make an effort to make meaningful connections with friends: old friends, my husband, my kids, and my current friends.

We’re doing our best to live focused this year, so our goal is to live intentionally and deliberately–using time wisely so that we can live life to the fullest.

Spending time with friends and loved ones is one piece of the puzzle.

It’s amazing how energizing and refreshing it is to actually spend time with friends–and I’m not talking about facebook messaging or google chatting.

I mean honest to goodness, catch up over the phone or in person.

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com

live focused printable february teachmama.com

Because we’re not trying to move mountains here, just trying to make small changes that make a big difference, we set four friendship goals this month:

  1. Contact an old friend.
  2. Plan an at-home date with your spouse.
  3. Hang out with your kids, doing something special.
  4. Go out with some friends.

Grab February’s printable here: live focused printable february teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, and we hope you do!, please link to this post instead of the document. Thank you!

You can do what you want, when you are able. But I figured that since there are four weeks in the month, shoot for one each week.

And since this is the month of love, we’ll all be eager to spend some quality time with loved ones.

I’m ready. Are you? Which will you start first?

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Are you in? Let me know, friends. I need to know I’m not walking alone on this journey!

  • share any of the photos here on your facebook page
  • share any of the photos here on your twitter or instagram page
  • share any of the photos here on your google + page or blog!

Tweet this:

Check it all out video-style:

 And? If you don’t already subscribe to teachmama.com’s YouTube channel, you totally want to!

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click below for #livefocused archives:

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be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering

be nicer than necessary notes teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

We’re in a mad winter funk over here.

A serious winter funk.

Lots of snow days and delays grey skies and dreary days and indoor recess at school means that there’s been a lot of grumpy, grouchy kids at our house.

And parents.

No matter what we do to mix things up, it seems like we’ve all been doing more arguing and bickering than I care to admit.  And it’s not just the kids–sure, of course, it’s the kids.  But it’s also my husband and me. The dog. The birds and fish.

We’re all a little cranky.

And I’m chalking it up to the winter blues.

So instead of allowing it to totally take over our lives this month, this month of luuuurve and friendship, we decided to focus on being nicer.

Our #livefocused challenge has us focusing on friendship over here, and because being nice is a really big part of friendship, we’re trying to be nicer than necessary this month.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Be Nicer Than Necessary Notes–Lunchbox Love to Help Us Stop Bickering:

Right.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

Because  Maddy, Owen, and Cora all really dug our True Holiday Spirit Notes during Advent this year, I fashioned the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes after them.  The kids liked how these notes were simple and small.

Today, at breakfast, when I introduced the idea to them, I said,

You guys. This past month has been a little crazy over here. There’s been a whole lot more arguing, bickering, and yelling than I care to admit. And it’s not just you.

Daddy and I have been arguing. Brady has been cranky. The birds and fish have been nasty.

We have all been super-cranky, and something has to change.

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

 

We talked about how hard the winter is and how much more time we spend stuck indoors and how hard that can be, but they agreed: something has to change, or we’re all going to go insane.

I said, We’re going to do what Maddy and I read about in the book, Wonder–we’re going to channel our inner Summer (a character from the book) and focus on being nicer than necessary. 

Owen said, Oh Mom, that’s not at all catchy: ‘Nicer than necessary notes’? Can’t you think of something better? 

I explained that the name isn’t as important as what we’d be doing but if he wanted to think of a newer, better, and more catchy name that he totally could.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

I said that each day, I’ll share a note in their lunchbox and that we’ll talk about what we did–or didn’t do–that night at dinner.

No pressure. Just a quick little reminder each day to be nicer than necessary. To be kinder than expected. To give a little more and to bring a little more sunshine into other people’s days.

Do you want the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes to download and throw in your kids’ lunches this month?

Here they are: nicer than necessary lunchbox notes teachmama.com

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com nicer than necessary lunchbox notes teachmama.com

 

(Please, if you choose to share–and we hope you do!–consider linking to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

Really, what I do is print out three sheets of notes (one for each child), and then I cut them as one page then clip them together.

That way, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will each get the same note every single day.

And is it a big deal that there are 25 notes here and 28 days in February? Nope. I figured that between snow days and weekends, we’d do fine with 25 reminders to be nicer than necessary. It’s all good.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about trying to live more intentionally, to be more focused in our every day, to smile more and worry less. Right?  Right.

And that’s it–just one little way we’re trying to move from being the Cranky McCrankerson family to a family that’s oozing with kindness. Or something like that.

 

Would it work for your family? How do you get your kids, spouse, and self out of the winter rut?
live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this month, when our #livefocused theme is friendship, than by sharing this information with you, your kids, students, and families.

I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead!

 

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

be a photo superstar: organize your photos now, for the year

organize your photos teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

organize  your photos | teachmama.com

 

For so many of us, photo organizing is an absolute nightmare.

Hundreds and hundreds of family photos are sitting, stuck, on cameras, phones, zip drives, and old hard drives.

They rarely–if ever–get download from camera to computer or phone to computer.

Many of us have dozens of photos loose in boxes.  Here there, and everywhere.  Photo mess.

And we’re not alone. I think it’s more the norm than not to have photos mixed up.  When we’re dealing with all that’s on our plate as busy parents, photo organizing often falls by the wayside.

This year is going to be different.

We are all going to be photo superstars, organizing photos now for the year. And beyond.

See? We’re serious about living focused in 2015, yo. Serious.

Here’s the skinny. .  .

Be a Photo Superstar–Organize Your Photos Now for the Year:

organize  your photos | teachmama.com

1. First things first:  Start fresh now.

Now. As in today. As in this month. Wherever you are right now.

Don’t go nutty trying to catch everything up from previous months or years. You’ll go nuts. If it happens that here and there you begin to clean up the past in the next few days or weeks, great. If not, then just celebrate the fact that now you are taking charge of your photos from here on out.

 

2. Create folders. Folders are key.

And? Stay simple.

Go into your computer and find your photo program. I have a Mac, so I use iPhoto. If you have a Windows computer, you may have Photo Gallery installed. If you can’t find it or figure it out, just start fresh and create a folder called photos.

organize photos file system | teachmama.com

Your photos need not be organized into specific events or children or anything crazy like that. Stay simple.

 

3. Do a little moving.

For real. Just a little.

You know you’re going to create a Family Snapshot photo album for the holidays? Start dragging photos into a ‘Family Snapshot 2015′ album.

From here on out, drag the few photos that might work for that project into that album. Bam.

organize photos file system | teachmama.com

 

You always make super-cute mugs with your kids’ faces on them for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day? Start a ‘Family Gift’ folder.  Today.

Shimmy some photos into that folder. Bam.

 

organize photos file system | teachmama.com

 

You have wanted to start that baby book for your child for the last few years but never have? (Yeah, me neither.)  Create a folder for each kid, so that when they come running to you for pictures of themselves that they need THAT VERY DAY, you can just head over to your ‘Maddy album’ or ‘Owen album’ or ‘Cora album’ and let the kid choose.

organize photos  teachmama.com

Delete photos that don’t matter.

Honestly, I totally screwed up my old computer by letting — get this– 35,000+ photos accumulate on the hard drive. That is way, way too many. The folks at Apple suggested I keep photos more in the 5-3,000 range, if that.

When you know better, you do better. So now I’m at 5,0001. Gulp.

4. Start backing up.

You really don’t want to lose your photos, friends. You really don’t.

Try these options:

  • Have your photos automatically upload and backup to Google;
    • for Android: photos app -> settings ->auto backup
    • for computer: download the Autobackup app;
    • for iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.): google app -> menu -> gear -> camera/photos -> auto backup on (remember to allow Google to access your photos by going to settings -> privacy -> photos -> allow Google
  • Use Backblaze to back up your whole computer, photos and all
    • I love Backblaze because it’s affordable and automatic and all of my stuff is safe, somewhere in the clouds.
  • Grab a hard drive or a few zip drives to keep your desktop clean.
    • I’m pretty crazy and use both a hard drive to automatically backup my stuff each night and zip drives to hold my blog photos.

organize photos | teachmama.com

  • Use Instaport to save all of your Instagram photos
    • Really. Free and easy.  Save them all or just tag some of them a certain way (maybe use #family or #keep) and the photos with that hashtag will automatically be saved to your harddrive. Cool, right?
    • Just remember to then move those photos right to your Family Snapshot (or whatever) folder every few weeks.

Shutterfly Photo Books 468x60
That’s it. Not only should this help you get back on track with photos, but when it comes time to make your photo books or photo gifts, you’ll have photos ready. The gifts won’t take you a million years to create.

You’ll grab a coupon. Upload the folder to the photo site (we like Photobooks, stationery, cards, and more from Shutterfly.), and bam. Ready to roll!

Check out a little more about photo books (when I say we love them over here, I mean it!):

busy mom trick for making yearly photo books | teachmama.com

 

photo books for kids and family: 15 best, coolest, most clever and creative

What works for you? How do you stay on top of your family’s photos? I’d love to hear it!

 

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

#livefocused posts:

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

how to schedule power kid time into your every day

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | a weekly organizer designed to make kid time a focus

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

I am not kidding with this.

You guys, the days may seem slow, but once your kids hit elementary school, life totally moves into fifth gear.

Completely. Like seriously life starts to flash by.

schedule power kid time  teachmama.com

I’ll never forget what a gal from my Moms Club said to me, when I ran into her at the grocery store one day, (she was kid-free, and I was juggling three kids under five). She said, Amy, you won’t believe this now, but it’s true: the days are slow but the years are fast. 

At the time, I remember thinking, Suuuuuure, lady. You enjoy your peace and quiet and coupon-shopping while I try to keep these kids occupied long enough for me to grab what I need for this week’s meals on top of two monster boxes of diapers and a human-sized bag o’ dog food. Awesome. Sure long days and short years. Mmmmmkay.

You know what, though? She was right. So right.

And though she didn’t pen that infamous parenting quote, it has stuck with me like glue.

I so know how so many of you feel right now–you’re so tired. You’re barely hanging on some days. You love your kids more than you ever thought possible, but you’re really filling your days with things to keep you all busy, hoping that the activities stretch you from nap time to playgroup to mealtime or tv time. Then your spouse comes home, you slap five, and you go do your work–tutoring, teaching, selling, cleaning, whatever–and he takes over.

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | teachmama.com

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | teachmama.com

 

Or something like that.

I get it. I was there. And I still am there in so many ways.

Though my babies are all in school now, I struggle to find carve out power time with them each day.  Time that counts, whether it’s because it’s quality snuggle time, time to just listen, or time to help them develop a solid foundation for learning.

This month, because we’re kicking off our #livefocused year, I thought I’d share something that could help during those crazy times–something that can actually help you no matter where you are with child raising to schedule power kid time into your every day.

No, it’s not a nanny, and it’s not a babysitter, housecleaner, or cook. So sorry.

It’s something that really may give your days, your weeks, and your months more focus.

It’s a super-simple sheet that really does nothing more than give you the place to schedule a little power time with your kids into your every day.

Power time with each of your children.  Whatever ‘power time’ may look like to you.

 

how to schedule power kid time into your every day

Sure, we’re with our kids a million hours each week. We’re with them every single day, for hours. And it’s awesome.

But are we really with them–listening to them, learning from them, supporting them in the best way we are able?

Because if we don’t spend power time with them now, before we know it, our kids may not want to even entertain the idea of spending time with us at all.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Schedule Power Kid Time into Your Every Day:

Believe me when I tell you that I never used anything like this when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were little.

But I truly believe that had I used it, it would have helped keep me a little more sane, allowed me to let a little bit go if I could have had it on paper each week.

Instead, I kept all of my power time plans in my head: Okay, Maddy needs some help with her d’s and b’s, so let me do a little of that with her this week; Owen’s grip is totally crazy, so I’m going to do some fine motor activities with him; and Cora is still calling every color ‘pink’ so we need to do a little work so the gal learns those colors

Right.

And along the way, let me do the grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning.  Dog walking, clothes shopping, and meal preparing. And I’ll schedule a few playdates, make sure the kids are getting to doctor appointments, clean the guinea pig cage, and do what I can to make sure we’re all happy and having fun. Oh, and let me help them learn their letters and numbers and colors and all that good stuff.

It’s a lot.

I feel grateful that my head was always filled with fun ways that my kids could learn those foundational skills, so it wasn’t hard for me to come up with ideas. The activities were usually based on research, on the stuff I was reading for my grad classes, the activities I had done when teaching, and the methods I was using for my tutoring students.  Or they came from parenting magazines, friends, or blogs I was reading.

I just grabbed a few things I had around the house that supported what we needed that day, and I used them during that quiet time before nap or rotated rooms during their rest time.

But I truly think that these little weekly plan sheets can help every parent get a little more organized this year–help parents deliberately plan power time for their kids each day or week.  

Power time does not need to be elaborate, crazy lesson plans. Just ideas, friends.

 

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

 weekly planner _ teachmama.com

If you’d like to download our weekly power time planner, here it is: weekly planner _ teachmama.com

(Remember, if you’re interested in sharing, great! Please consider linking to this post rather than the attachment page, please!)

And punch holes in each page, add them all to a 3-ring binder.  Include some dividers with folders, and you have a sweet, simple little planner.

Or, if you don’t want to go that route and you don’t want to punch holes, get a skinny report cover clip, and that can be your calendar planner.  Either way, remember we have the 2015 calendar because we love you that much.

 

I have the planner. I downloaded and printed. Now what?

Jot down ideas. Just so you remember to grab the puzzles from the basement when you go down or so that you remember to print out a few mazes or alphabet cards or find a few pennies for cleaning or pick up cheerios or pretzel sticks from the grocery store.

Sit back with a cuppa at the beginning of the week, look roughly ahead at your weekly schedule, and figure out a few things you want to do with your kids. What kind of power time you want to spend with them.

Visit our FAQ page to find out where you should start or to find ideas that work for your kids. Or check out the navigation bar to find other topics. I’ll have another post coming soon filled with places to go from here if you’re stuck.

On top of doing all that other parenting stuff.

Use the ‘to do’ lines to jot down some general things you must accomplish each day.

Consider:

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

  • Use the boxes to schedule three things you want to do during kid time. Remember with little ones, you may have full days at home. Full morning. Full afternoon. Fill ‘em up, friends.  And think: movement, mind, and me time. Each and every day.

movement: Kids need to move each day, both fine motor and gross motor.

mind: Kids need to stretch their mind each day, in some way, shape, or form.

me: Kids need to have alone time each day, playing by themselves, doing something independently.

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

 

  • If you have more than one child, use the ‘to do’ lines the same as above, but use one box for each child. Most likely, you’ll be doing a bunch of things together, which is totally cool. Just try to fit in at least one focused activity with each kiddo each day.

You want to shoot for one activity that packs some kind of punch.

 

schedule power kid time | teachmama.com

schedule power kid time | teachmama.com

  • If you have older, school-aged kids, just using the sheets to make sure that you are adding time for each child each day–no matter what. Maybe you’re not sitting down together each and every day to craft or play like you could when they were younger, but any time together, even if it’s having a child help you with dinner or helping him organize his Pokemon cards (gah!) counts.
  • Make these sheets work for you and your family. There’s no wrong way.

And that’s it.

Just a little somethin’ to keep in your back pocket, my friends.

What do you think? Yay? Nay?

How else can I help?

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

#livefocused posts:

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

organize playspaces 4 steps to awesome teachmama.com

Friends.

I’m  hoping that you’re still doing a rockstar job taking control your three things this month because, sweet mercy–you can manage to organize three things.

Whatever it is that has been bugging you, whatever it is that causes you the most stress or anxiety, start there.

That sock drawer? The coat closet? The laundry room? You can do it.

This is the year, friends. We’re taking control of our life and our time, and we are living focused.

Need the whole deal? Check out the get yourself organized post as a refresher.

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

I do understand that often it’s overwhelming if you choose something big to organize.  We often don’t know where to start or what to do after we get started. Or sometimes we just get sick of doing it in the middle and want to quit (I do, at least).

Lucky for us, I have recently joined forces with the amazing Rachel from Rachel and Company, and we have some really cool projects in the works.

For real.

Like cool ways to help you and your family get organized–and stay organized.

Like cool things just for your tween. Or just for your kids. Or just to help you organize some super-tricky parts of your life.

Can’t wait.

Until then, I have Rachel sharing some awesome tips for organizing play spaces over here for us today.

You’ll love her.

And you’ll totally love the Organizing Play Spaces Printable we’ve created.  (Scroll on down–you’ll find the link!)

Here’s the skinny. . .

Organizing Play Spaces–4 Steps to Awesome and Tips Every Parent Needs: 

Organizing Play Spaces, by Rachel Rosenthal

The holidays are over but are the new toys, games and books your kids got for the holidays taking over your home?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! They’re taking over my home too and I do this for a living.

Now that everyone is back in school and we’re all back in somewhat of a routine, it’s time to stop tripping over that new toy fire engine when you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. It’s also time to finally organize all this new stuff!

So, what to do?

To start, find a designated “play space” to keep everything organized, or as you know, the toys and games will take over your home.

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needsorganizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

Even if you don’t have an entire room to devote to “play”, creating a space in the corner of another room can really help contain the clutter in one area (or at least give you a starting point!).

Without a place to put something, we can’t expect our little ones–or even ourselves–to have an organized play space. And while as moms we are prone to taking on all the organizing ourselves, I am giving you permission to stop doing it all yourself.

Depending on the age of your children, I say, get them involved.

There are age-appropriate organizing tasks that your children can do, and now is the time to empower them to be involved in living an organized life.

Things might not be “perfect” or the way you want them, but that isn’t the point. We want to empower our children and ourselves in creating a space truly conducive to play.

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

organize play spaces teachmama.com 3

Below are some tips on organizing your play space that even your youngest kids can help with!

  • Put all small items like doll accessories, toy cars and even game pieces in labeled containers without a lid. This keeps similar items together and makes for easier play and clean up. Adding a label (a picture or words) helps little ones participate with the organizing.
  • Don’t try to organize your entire play space at once. Choose one category of items, like dress up clothes or board games and focus on just that before moving on. Our printable on organizing your kids can help. It lists out some of the top items that need to be organized in a play area and gives just a few easy steps for paring down what you have and getting an organizing system into place.
  • Have a “hide the clutter” basket. Keep a large empty basket or container in your play area. This can be used two ways. Just make sure that you set a time limit on how long items can stay in this basket. We recommend no more than one week.

1. A quick hide all:  if you need to get things off the floor in a flash (think unannounced guests).

2. An easy organizer:  Whether it’s you or your kids who are reorganizing the play area at the end of play time, fill the container with everything that is left out, then carry it with you to put the items away where they belong.

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Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel and Company is an organizing extraordinaire.  Rachel uses creativity, style and a little elbow grease to help families get their homes, schedules, routines and lives in order. As a professional organizer, Rachel empowers families of all ages and sizes to live more organized, productive lives and has helped over 900 clients since starting in 2008.

Rachel works nationally with clients, is based in Bethesda, MD with her 7-year-old identical twins, and she has been featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Washingtonian, The Washington Post, Parents, NBC4 and Fox5. Rachel can be reached through her website: www.rachel-company.com.rachel and company  rachel collage

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Thank you, Rachel!

I love Rachel’s idea of the open containers, especially for younger kids, and I love the idea of the ‘hide the clutter’ basket–with limitations and guidelines.

So smart.

So let’s get you organized, my friends.

 

Here’s a super-cute printable that Rachel and I collaborated on. I think  you’ll dig it.

Organize Play Spaces Printable: organize play spaces teachmama.com 3

If you choose to share or link to the printable (and we hope you do!), please link to this post rather than the document itself. Thank you!

 

 

So there you have it–a really quick way to organize your child’s play space, wherever that may be!

How do you stay organized? What do you use to organize play spaces? I’d love to hear it!

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live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

#livefocused posts:

family volunteering on martin luther king, jr day

family volunteering on martin luther king, jr day teachmama.com

Last year was the very first year we volunteered as a family to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

But it will not be the last.

Already, we’re looking for other ways we can give back to our community this year to celebrate the life of this great man.

Family volunteering on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is easy, thanks to a handful of really awesome organizations designed to make finding volunteer opportunities the easy part.

Not even kidding.

family volunteering on martin luther king, jr day

 

It takes five minutes to find a great option for your family and then register right there and then. And registering means only that you’re letting someone know you’ll be there.

No fees involved.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Family Volunteering on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: 

Friends. You will be so happy to see these resources and how organized and awesome they are.

Is one better than the next? You decide.

They’re all actually like brother and sister and cousins, so find what works for you!

Here are several starting points for family volunteering:

Points of Light | The world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action and change the world.

 

 

family volunteering on mlk day

 

Points of Light is like the starting point. The Big Daddy. The homebase. The command center.

Everything you need is there, and the organizations below (many of them) can be found there.

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All for Good | All for Good is a hub for volunteerism and community service on the Internet, and a service of Points of Light.

family volunteering for mlk day

We found our volunteer activity here last year, and we’ll use it again this year.

It’s super simple to use, and you can search by area of interest (think: adult education, animals, culture, environment, schools, sports & rec, technology, seniors, etc.).

You can search by National Service Events, and you can search by dates.  Most importantly, you can search

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HandsOn Network | They inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.

volunteering for families for mlk day

HandsOn Network puts people at the center of change and connects them to their power to make a difference by adhering to these values:

  • People drive change
  • Passion overcomes obstacles
  • Service bridges and bonds
  • Innovation drives results
  • Servant leadership transforms

The cool thing about this platform is that you can really share your awesome with others, too.  You can share your skills in different ways, at any time of the year.

You can join an HandsOn Action Center and help where it is most needed.

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Host a Sunday SupperAmerica’s Sunday Supper is a key program of Points of Light.

volunteering for families on mlk day

Inspired by Dr. King’s vision of people of diverse backgrounds interacting on personal levels, America’s Sunday Supper encourages people to share a meal and discuss issues that affect their communities, to increase racial and cultural understanding and to promote unity. 

I love it.

Will we do it? I’m not sure we’ll do it this year, but I want to.

Points of Light provides resources like talking points–conversation starters–and tons of recipes.

The goal? Inspire each of your guests to host their own Sunday Supper. I mean, what better way to have these important conversations?

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GenerationOnTheir mission is to inspire, equip, and mobilize youth to take action that changes the world and themselves through service. 

I am so excited to share about this site. So excited I found it!

 

volunteering for families

 

Really, allowing your kids to check out the GenerationOn site may be a super way to get them inspired for volunteering.

They’ve got videos of teens and tweens and elementary schoolers talking about why they volunteer.

They’ve got a site that is uber user-friendly.

They’ve got tons of important causes clearly outlined.

They’ve got tons of project ideas.

They’ve got a boatload of really worthwhile resources.

And I’m betting that for many kids, this will be all they need to really get psyched to make a difference–make their mark–on the world.

 

generation ON mlk day

 

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And that’s it for this year! Hopefully this will get you excited about volunteering for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day–or any day of the year.

What do you to celebrate this day? I’d love to know!

Have you used these platforms before? What was your experience?

Want a little more for MLK, Jr, Day? Check out: 

fun ways to celebrate martin luther king jr day cover

fyi: affiliate links are used below: