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

 

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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?

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:

Check it all out video-style:

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live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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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?

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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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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:

organize your family’s week: small step with big payoff

organize your family's week teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

I’ve often talked about our house having a ‘command station’ or central hub, where you could find almost anything you need.

And though each family should have one, I’m sure that for each family it’s different.

organize your family's week teachmama.com

Ours command station is in our kitchen, and it always has been.

In our kitchen, near our phone, near our newly organized junk drawers, we have a tile that literally tells the story of our week.

It has been hugely helpful for us, and it’s something that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Organize Your Family’s Week–Small Step With Big Payoff:

So how do we make our week happy? Easy.

We share the love. We share the news. We share the schedule.

There’s no biggie calendar on the way with everything we need; we use google calendar for that.

Instead, we go weekly.organize your family's week: small step with big payoff

Here’s what helps me take our schedule day by day. . . the widget for my phone. . .

organize your family's week: small step with big payoff

. . . and this calendar widget shows our whole google calendar on one screen.

Monday through Sunday each and every week.

On an 8″ by 10″ ceramic tile–one kind of like this tile but bigger.

We use dry erase markers and a happy little photo stand.

organize your family's week:

organize your family's week:

Even when we were doing our kitchen renovation, we used the weekly tile. Just kind of in a different place.

What we do to make our week happy is we put it all out there. We lay out the week’s plan at the beginning of each week. That way, any time the kids want to see what’s going on, all they have to do is check out the tile. If they want to add something, they can.

The little letter on the righthand side of the tile? The letter of whomever’s day it is. No questions. No surprises.

And at the end of the week, we wipe it away and start fresh.

During the summer, we don’t go week by week; rather, we go day by day.

 

organize your family's week:

Our days together are longer in the summer, so there’s a lot more that happens in those hours between wake-up and bedtime.  On summer mornings, the very first thing I do is write down the daily schedule so that there are few surprises.

And from breakfast to dive to swim to lunch and afternoon pool time, it’s all covered.

It’s not perfect, by any means.

But it helps.

And for kids who oftentimes thrive on routine, it’s helpful for them to know that our schedule is always here.

 

So there you have it–a really quick way to organize your family’s week in super-small steps with big payoffs.

How do you stay organized? What do you use to keep your family organized each week? I’d love to hear it!

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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

 

 

new year’s family plan: 100 good deeds

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds teachmama.com

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new year's family plan: 100 good deeds teachmama.com

I’ve long stopped creating New Year’s Resolutions because, well, they always seem to be broken.

Instead, we, as a family, try to make some positive changes at the beginning of each year.

We use the time to get refocused.

We use the time to check in with each other.

We use the time to start some healthier routines.

Not always easy–this I know.

This year, we’re all starting the 100 Good Deeds plan.

As a family.

And it’s a pretty cool way of kicking off the New Year.

Join us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

We’re not alone in our 100 Good Deeds Plan; in fact, we’re part of a huger than huge campaign geared toward making some positive change.

The premise is that the wearer of the bracelet does good deeds–just put more good into the world.

The Rules of the Game? 

A ‘good deed’ means you’ve gone out of our way to help someone, and it only counts if the deed remains anonymous.

Each time you do a good deed, you move the rubber ring one bead closer toward the 1GD button.

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds

The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet was created by Mary Fisher – artist, author, advocate – who spent a decade partnering with at-risk women in Africa and around the world, designing jewelry made by the women to earn a dignified livelihood.

Fisher, a leader in global social change, launched The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet, a handcrafted collection that symbolizes a commitment to perform good deeds and bring about positive change in the world.

aFrF-s8D2yuz1pZrvHBma1iSk1fqQKmAL_Y30i9ZzBIFisher says,“The motivation behind The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet collection is to inspire simple acts of kindness around the world.

Each bracelet is a reminder to spread positive change through action and fulfill our mission to Do Good, One Deed, One Bead, One Act of Kindness at a Time.

I LOVE this.

Don’t you?new year's family resolution 100 good deeds  teachmama.com blank

 

Want to grab your own 100 Good Deeds bracelet? Yes you do.

Check it out: 100 Good Deeds site

And please remember, to join the #DeedADay movement, share one of these images on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest using hashtag #DeedADay and tagging the 100 Good Deeds Bracelet. That’s it.

NA-DOK-4pvLfsUP692gjF76l-fcqsmMdwCTywPAQ3HI

These Bracelets are made by vulnerable women who’ve been trained for this work in Uganda, India, Indonesia, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, IniInand Haiti. This project gives a women a way to support their families through earnings, while empowering them to also contribute to good deeds around the world.

Join me.

Actually, have your whole family join us–and together, we’ll make some serious change.

Join the movement. Buy your bracelet. Make #DeedADay your plan for the year.

Imagine the example we’ll be setting for our kids!

 

fyi: I was gifted this 100 Good Deeds bracelet to review and share with my readers. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year

26 fun family traditions to start this year teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions to start this year  teachmama.com

I’m all about family traditions.

Not only does it make your life as a parent easier, but having traditions gives your kids something to hold on to.

Traditions give kids the feeling of security.

Traditions give kids the feeling of safety and comfort.

Traditions give kids the feeling of strength of family.

And yes, often there are years that traditions also teach kids about flexibility.

Especially when for whatever reason you can’t make the Flag Cake or you can’t organize a St. Patty’s Day Scavenger Hunt.

I’ve gathered 26 cool, fun, new family traditions to start in the new year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 26 Cool, New Family Traditions to Start in the New Year:

 Here they are.

1. Complete the New Year’s Interview.  One of our all-time faves.

2. Volunteer on MLK, Jr. Day.  Spend the day doing something that counts.

3.  Make Surprise Notes for your neighbors.  It doesn’t matter when; it doesn’t matter which ones. Just do it.

4. Host a January Favorite Junk Food Party.  Everyone brings one thing: his or her favorite snacky junk food.

5. Make crafts for Meals on WheelsSimple crafts, pretty notes just to brighten someone’s day.

26 cool traditions for family - teachmama.com

6. Participate in a fundraising walk. For whatever cause speaks to your heart. We’ve got some starting points on our blog 4 cause post.

7. Make Valentines for classmates and friends.  We think that homemade is best. They don’t have to be fancy.

8. Do an Earth Day park clean-up. It can be as simple or as involved as you like, with one person or ten.

9. Use the Special Plate to celebrated good days.  The Special Plate makes every one of us smile. It’s a good day when you get to use the Special Plate.

10. Have ice-cream for dinner on the last day of school. Because why not? It’s SUMMER!

11.  Allow everyone to choose his or her birthday dinner. If the birthday boy (or girl) has a party, it’s a dinner in, and Mom and Dad cook a meal of choice. If there’s no party, it’s a dinner out.

12. Celebrate Golden Birthdays, when your age matches the date.  Maddy and Owen both celebrated their Golden Birthday on their 9th year; Cora will celebrate hers when she’s 23, but we’ll most likely celebrate a Half-Golden Birthday when she’s 11 1/2 years old.

13. Eat fondue on New Year’s Day.  Do it up. Cheese, bouillon, and chocolate with fancy glasses and sparkling cider.

14. Make a July 4th Flag Cake.  Strawberries, blueberries, whipped icing, and yum.

 

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year

15. Have a St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt.  Quick and easy, around the house.  At the end? A little pot o’ gold, of course. Or at least a fun little goodie bag.

16.  Make an Easter Bunny Cake. Round cakes, licorice, and jelly beans make this a special Easter treat.

17.  Organize a neighborhood Egg Hunt.  The eggs don’t have to be filled with jewels–kids love to find anything in their eggs–wrapped candy, pennies, you name it!

18. Have a 1st Day of Summer Cook-Out. Back yard, with hotdogs, chips, and watermelon.  Neighbors and friends. Make it a potluck so it’s easy on you.

19. Make Mom breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. Awwwwhhh, one of my favorite things ever is when the kids make me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Who cares if the coffee’s cold and toast is burnt? Not I!

20. Go on a family hike for Father’s Day. Let Dad pick the hike, or kids can surprise him. Pack a lunch, drinks, and a blanket. Enjoy!

21. Make Candy Wreaths for your schools.  Because who doesn’t love candy? And really, every single school staff member will love you for it.

26 fun family traditions to start this year  teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions teachmama.com WHITE

 

22. Open new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  One gift before the big day, and it’s always pj’s. Fresh, cozy, new jammies for the big night. And everyone will have matching pjs on for Christmas morning photos.

23. Have the kids make dinner for parents on their anniversary. We haven’t done this yet, but man. I really want to.

24. Schedule a surprise no-school, Cookie-Baking Day in December. Hands down, it’s our absolute favorite day of the holiday season. Well, almost.

25. Boo! your friends in October. Even more fun if you gather a group of pals to do the ‘boo-ing’ with!

26. Make shoebox gifts for the needy at holiday time.  We do this every year, and every year it gets more fun for the kids and more meaningful.  Our church is a drop-off point, but many local newspapers also advertise places that they take these important boxes.

And that’s it!

I’d love to hear what traditions you celebrate and honor each year–there’s always room for more!

Want to download the fancy-schmancy 26 cool, new family traditions poster: 26 fun family traditions teachmama.com BKGD

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year | teachmama.com

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All I ask is that if you choose to share this post, please link to this post and not the attachment page–thank you!

 

Check out a few other posts that may help you develop strong and healthy habits for your family: