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?

don’t send your child to Kindergarten until you take this Home Study!

get kids ready for kindergarten

Friends!

I have been so, so busy lately, working hard on our teachmama.com redesign– woo-hooooo! and working on some other really fun and exciting things for you.

 

what every parent must know before sending kids to kindergarten  stop sign teachmama.com

This week, I launched the first of a series of teach mama Home Studies: short, information-packed, interactive courses designed to change your life.

Perhaps you think ‘changing your life’ is a little lofty–but it’s true.  It really can change your life–and your child’s. 

Here’s the thing: in the last 10 years, I have spoken at dozens of local and national events, sharing information about teaching, learning, and community building.  One workshop I’ve done dozens of times is about how parents can prepare their children for Kindergarten. 

Time and time again, the feedback is the same.

Check it out to learn more, but know that spots are filling quickly: teach mama Home Study Kindergarten prep.

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:

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

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read across america day EVERY day of the year

celebrate read across america every day | teachmama.com

This post was originally published on March 1, 2013 but we’re republishing because it’s that important. 

 

celebrate read across america every day | teachmama.com

 

It’s Read Across America Day!  Only something that everyone’s been talking about for days and days and days and days now, but don’t worry if you’re already in your pj’s or missed the boat altogether.

Don’t worry if this is the very first time you’re hearing about it and now you feel like  you’re the only kid not invited to the party. TO-tally not so!  Everyone’s invited to this bash–no matter who you are, where you are, or what you read.

Read Across America Day is a simply the day that marks the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Read Across America Day has kids all over the country reading Seuss, rhyming, watching Cat in the Hat and The Lorax videos, and wearing a whole lot of red and white stripes to school.  And Read Across America Day kicks off THE reading month: March.read across america day every day

But I really think that Read Across America Day–and the whole hoopla of reading-excitement that follows through most of March–should be carried on every day.

In my opinion, reading can–and should–have a place in everyone’s house on every day of the year. That’s right. Every. Single. Day.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Read Across America Day EVERY Day of the Year: You got it.

Check it out–

 

In this quickie video I’m sharing 3 ways that families everywhere can bring home the Read Across America excitement any day they choose.

I touch on three easy things any parent can do to make their home a literate environment, to raise word-conscious kids, and to make books a constant conversation.

 

What am I missing? What else could–and should–parents do to bring Read Across America home all year long?  Let me know in the comments section, please!

 

fyi: want to check out the books I mention in the vlog?

Some affiliate links are used. Many thanks for considering!

best bunco game night snack ideas

bunco game night snacks teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

I lied when I said that the best thing about Bunco was that it was an easy game to play while catching up with friends.

Really.

I lied.

It’s not 100% true.

The best thing about Bunco is the snacks.

There. I said it.

Bunco snacks are awesome.

But if Bunco isn’t your game and something else is–Scrabble? Phase 10? Pokeno? Yahtzee?–whatever it is, snacks are a fun part of game night.

And though I am kidding, I’m also kind of not kidding. We all need good snacks to round out a fun night with friends.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Best Bunco Game Night Snack Ideas: 

The big thing about game night snacks is that the options are endless.

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

We like to go for a few prepared appetizers brought by 3-4 people:

  • hummus and pita
  • veggies  and dip
  • cheese board: mix of hard and soft cheeses, some apple and pear slices, and some fruit jams
  • a warm dip and chips, like a crab artichoke dip, buffalo chicken dip, a reuben dip, or pizza dip.
  • hand-held mini tacos, taquitos, or dumplings
  • cookies, brownie bites
  • fruit pizza or tarts

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

And each Bunco table usually two bowls of snacks–something sweet and something salty: 

  • pretzels
  • chocolate covered pretzels
  • M & Ms
  • licorice bits
  • candy hearts
  • nuts
  • chocolate covered nuts
  • Bugles
  • trail mix

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

Bunco drinks should be varied:

  • wine
  • beer
  • soda: diet and regular
  • iced tea
  • water
  • coffee, hot tea
  • fun mixed drink that’s quick and easy to make

Remember to find everything you need to know for a rockstar Bunco Girls’ Night Out here: 

how to play bunco: super fun gno | everything you need to know to play bunco with your friends

 

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

post contains affiliate links

 

 

family fondue night  teachmama.com 2

 

Our family has longtime been a fan of the fondue night.

It’s a tradition for us to make this dinner on New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and often the kids will choose to have fondue for their birthday dinner as well.

Fondue is a lot of fun, but I must be clear: it’s not just a dinner–it’s an event.

It takes time to shop for fondue, prep fondue, and slowly enjoy fondue. And one huge plus is that although it sounds fancy, it’s really pretty simple.

We often rock it out with a 3-course dinner: cheese fondue, broth fondue, and chocolate fondue.

Yum, yum, and yum.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Do a Family Fondue Night–Special Occasion Dinner:  

First things first.

You need a fondue set to make this happen. 

And you could go super simple and electric where the heating element is plugged in:

(Below is the Cuisinart Electric Fondue Maker.)

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

Or you could go super simple and stay traditional, where the heating source is a fire gel or something similar:

(Like the ExcelSteel Fondue Set below.)

family fondue night  teachmama.com traditional pot

And depending on the size of your family, you may want to get two sets so that you all can cook simultaneously.

Because think about it: two fondue forks each, times a family of five, equals ten fondue forks. All in one pot. That’s a lot of forks.

family fondue night  teachmama.com many pots

Pictured above:

Anything you choose, you want to make sure that you have a decent fondue pot and fondue forks.  I got lucky one year and found a pot at our local thrift shop, so it’s worth checking out.

Once you have the proper equipment, then you can decide on the menu.

One thing I love about fondue is that everyone can help with just about every step in some way, shape or form. 

Get the kids involved! 

Have them:

  • help you plan the menu;
  • help create the shopping list;
  • set the table;

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.comhow to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

  • design table cards;
  • break the bread (can be hand torn if kids are too small to cut);
  • cut the vegetables, fruit, or bread;
  • decide on a fun sparkly drink (we like Shirley Temples in fancy glasses for the kids!);
  • organize the forks (everyone must be assigned a color!); or
  • design the layout of dipping sauces.

The possibilities are endless.

Then start cooking!

We usually go with a 3-course fondue event: cheese, broth, and chocolate.

There are a million ways to make fondue, but we’ve created super-super simple recipes with mild flavors that really suit our children’s increasingly adventurous palates.

The cool thing about fondue is that you can really kick up the flavors in simple ways.

Want a little more edgy cheese fondue? Choose sharper cheeses, add some cooking wine or hot sauce.

Want your meets to have more of a kick? Consider dipping the cooked pieces in fun and crazy sauces. Our standbys are barbecue, teriyaki, steak, and cocktail sauce.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 1: cheese fondue

Ingredients

2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

½ cup beer (really–the alcohol will cook off!) or white cooking wine

salt & pepper to taste

For dipping: French bread, apple slices, pre-cooked carrots or broccoli

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix ingredients over med-low heat until melted. Move to fondue stand.

2.     Dip the chosen dippers into the melted cheese.

3.     Enjoy!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 2: broth fondue

Ingredients

4-8 cups of chicken broth (usually buy two 32oz packages)

1 T Tastefully Simple Spinach and Herb Mix or other seasoned mix

salt and pepper to taste

For dipping: raw shrimp (peeled, de-veined), chicken, beef, salmon, potatoes, veggies cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces

Sauces for dipping: barbecue, teriyaki, steak, cocktail sauce, Ranch, etc.

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix broth and seasoning over medium heat until 375 degrees (just below boiling). Move to fondue stand.

2.     Put meat or veggie on skewer and dip into broth.  Meat and veggies will cook in this broth, so it’s imperative that you pay attention to cooking times.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Some helpful fondue-making hints:

  • Keep all raw foods on the same plate;
  • Color coordinate fondue forks so that no one gets mixed up;
  • Move cooked food directly to your own plate, take it off of the fondue fork, and eat with your own regular fork;
  • If you have super-hungry kids, make a quick side dish for them to munch on while foods cook;
  • Be over cautious–over-cook vs under cook foods;
  • Pre-cook veggies to speed up cooking time.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

family fondue night | teachmama.com cooking times

Want to check out the coolest fondue cooking timer ever? This is a riot: The Melting Pot Fondue Timer.

We’ll totally pull it out on our iPad next time we’re making fondue!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 3: chocolate fondue

Ingredients

1 bag semi-sweet milk chocolate chips

1 bag milk chocolate chips

½ cup warm heavy cream

½ cup peanut butter

For dipping: strawberries, banana, marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake cut into bite-sized pieces

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix ingredients over medium heat until melted. Move to fondue stand.

2.     Dip strawberries, banana, marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake, cookies cut into bite-sized pieces into chocolate and enjoy!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

 

Fondue is a super-fun, memory building event for families.

It’s one of our family traditions. It’s special.

There’s no reason to be fearful of fondue because you can really take it as small–or as large–as you’d like. If you don’t want to go nuts with three courses, cleaning up and washing the pots in between, then just do the cheese fondue as a side for a regular dinner.

Or do the broth fondue as your main course and rice or noodles as a side.

The chocolate fondue is always a super idea for a special dessert, for any occasion.

 

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

 

Do you want our recipes?

Know that they are not perfect, but they work for us. Season and adjust to your liking.

family fondue night | teachmama.com recipes

You can download our Family Fondue Night Recipes here as a pdf: fondue dinner recipe _ teachmama.com

(If you choose to share this post–and we hope you do!– please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!)

 

Because there’s so much cutting involved in fondue prep, if you think you or your kids need a little refresher on proper knife techniques, try this: Complete Knife Skills, with Brendan McDermott (FREE mini-course!)

We’re giving it a go for Valentine’s Day, though we’re going for the Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott

It’s better than candy in our family!

And that’s it–a family favorite, for sure!

 

 

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:

 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:

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

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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#livefocused posts: