live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions |

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions |


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.


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 | #livefocused


You can find it here: live focused printable march –

(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 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
  • tweet this: I am psyched to join @teachmama in her #livefocused 2015 adventure! Join me:
  • tweet this: Do YOU want to live a more focused, intentional life this year? Join the #livefocused crew: @teachmama
  • tweet this: Make this year COUNT. Get focused. Live intentionally. #livefocused @teachmama

Check it all out video-style:

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

live focused 2015 b w collage



click below for #livefocused archives:

ive focused in 2015 organization sq

live focused in 2015 friendship sq

finding time for what you love: The Fringe Hours

finding time for what you love: the fringe hours |

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.


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

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

organize your photos

post contains affiliate links




organize  your photos |


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 |

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 |

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 |


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 |


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

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 |

  • 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 |


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 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

our easy, homemade art book: keep artwork organized!

our easy, homemade art book: keep artwork organized!

This blog post was originally published on April 11, 2010, but we’re republishing it because it’s a great addition to our #livefocused January organization theme! 

easy homemade art book

My kids have been crazy about drawing and coloring and writing and doodling for as long as I can remember.

Maybe it’s because we keep our house stocked with paper and markers whenever the kids want to use them, maybe it’s because the kids each have traveling writing centers in their rooms, or maybe it’s because are constantly writing notes ourselves. . . and are often doodling on any ole paper we can find.

Whatever the case, I’m happy that my kiddos are inspired. But I am not happy with the mess of papers, marker caps, and finished–and unfinished–artwork here, there, and everywhere.

easy homemade art book This was our dining room table on a good day–a good day.
easy homemade art book

So yesterday, while our family decompressed from Maddy and Owen’s first-ever tee-ball practice, I went organizing nutty, and I came up with (hopefully, hopefully, hopefully!) a solution to our artwork chaos.

Let’s hope this Quick Trick does the trick:

  • Our Easy, Homemade Art Book:

    Thanks to my high-school English teaching days, I have dozens and dozens of 3-ring binders filled to the brim with all of my papers, resources, and units for everything I ever taught. From Romeo and Juliet to A Raisin in the Sun, from Lord of the Flies to Frankenstein, from poetry to thesis papers and speeches to grammar, you name it, I have it. Filed neatly in many binders.

But finally yesterday, I tucked a few lessons and units away and found a new home for the basic 3-ring binder–our Art Book.

easy homemade art book

easy homemade art book


All the Art Book is is a big (ugly) 3-ring binder with Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s artwork clipped inside. It’s not artwork from school or projects we do around here. It’s just the many loose sheets that have occupied our dining room table for way too long.

I hole-punched all of the sheets and shoved them in. And honestly, as ugly as the book may be from the outside, on the inside, it’s really cool.

Just like Maddy’s Drawing A Cat book or Drawing a Happy Face book, our Art Book is a snapshot of where my kids are now, at the present, as far as abilities, interests, and challenges are concerned.

easy homemade art book Maddy’s drawing of Cora, next to Cora’s drawing of something.
easy homemade art book
Owen’s 12th picture of race cars racing.

I considered–for a second–adding dividers to the Art Book, one for Maddy’s work, Owen’s work, and Cora’s work. I think it’d be a great way of keeping work separated, and it may be more fun for the kids when they go back to look through their book. But my kiddos are young yet, so I’m taking baby steps.

Maybe after Art Book 1 is filled, Art Book 2 will have dividers for each person’s work. But for now, I’ll just be really glad if all the dining room table masterpieces find their way into Mr. Art Book. Period.

easy homemade art book

To help in the process, I added an organizer to our dining room (and it totally fits with our decor, right?) that has a spot for paper, the Art Book, and markers and crayons.

The paper in the drawer is already punched, so upon completion, the artwork needs only to be signed, and then it’s ready for landing in its permanent Art Book home–unless it’s scheduled to be sent to a doting grandparent, aunt, or uncle, of course!

So that’s it–just a quick little Quick Trick for organizing our art work. We’ll see how it goes!

live focused 2015 b w collage



ive focused in 2015 organization sq

#livefocused posts:

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

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 |

how to schedule power kid time into your every day |


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


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 |

 weekly planner _

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

(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.


schedule kid time each each |

schedule kid time each each |

  • 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 |

schedule kid time each each |


  • 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 |

schedule power kid time |

  • 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 b w collage



ive focused in 2015 organization 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


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 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.


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: and company  rachel collage



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 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!


live focused 2015 b w collage



ive focused in 2015 organization sq

#livefocused posts:

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

organize your family's week

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

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!


live focused 2015 b w collage



ive focused in 2015 organization 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



get your life organized: the plan sheet is quick, simple, and NOT going to freak you out

get your life organized: the plan sheet is quick, simple, and NOT going to freak you out

Here we go, friends.

We’re ready to rock and roll and live focused in 2015.

January is going to begin with some serious organization because we can’t really focus on other important parts of our life if we’re muddled down by stressful, messy, chaos.

As a little bit o’ love for you, I’ve created a January || Organization Plan Sheet that is quick, simple, and not going to freak you out.


get organized the plan sheet

I am all about writing down goals and intentions, but I am often overwhelmed by blank pages and millions and millions of questions.

I want simple. I want quick. I want concise.

So here’s the skinny. . .

Get Your Life Organized — The Plan Sheet is Quick, Simple, and NOT Going to Freak You Out:

I actually created the plan sheet last week, and I’ve already started on it.

Believe me, I’m not trying to be braggy–I was desperate.

Our house was basically insanity after we got back from celebrating Christmas in Pennsylvania, so I went (gulp) a bit nuts.  

I mean it. There were things everywhere.

Owen couldn’t put his clothes away because he had 6 Ts still hanging around. (He’s now wearing size 8.).

Laundry baskets full of clean clothes were being mistaken for dirty clothes, so we were double washing. (Unbelievable.).

I was unable to open drawers in the kitchen because there were too many papers and old receipts. (Frustrating.)

The laundry room, which is right off of our garage, had become a graveyard for shoes, coats, and books, and the tipping point was when I found an old piece of Halloween candy shoved in a shoe that no one would claim. (Right? Gross.)

I was overwhelmed at how much needed to be done.

get organized the plan sheet

I didn’t know where to start.

All I wanted was my mom to come over and help me.  She’s so good at organizing, so patient and awesome, and there were times when the kids were young that I would have lost my mind had she not sat with me and helped me to turn the kids’ drawers.

Figuring out what to do with the clothes that didn’t fit–or kind of fit–and where to put them and how to find the unlabeled bins of Maddy’s 4T clothes which I’d just thrown in in a hurry so that Cora had something to wear was very hard for me. It still is.  But I’m getting better.

Often, when I’m overwhelmed, I just don’t do anything.

I freeze.

So the mess sits and sits. And the chaos builds. And I start to freak out inside. And then I freak out on the outside. And then the whole house freaks out because I freaked out. And then everyone and everything’s all messed up.

This month, however, I’m taking back control.

I created the January || Organization Plan Sheet, and it really, truly helped me figure out where to begin.

Here it is: live focused printable jan

get organized the plan sheet |

 live focused printable jan

Download. Save it. Print it. Use it. 

(If you do share it, though–which I hope you do!, please share this post instead of the attachment page!)

It consists of five steps:

  1. step back and look around
  2. write it down
  3. pick three
  4. make a plan
  5. be happy

My favorite? Be happy. Because I’m encouraging some sort of reward–something that is healthy and happy and perfect for you.  For me, it was giving myself time to read. Something I really, truly love to do but rarely allow during the day. I always read before bed, when I’m super tired. Too tired to really enjoy the book.

I wanted to keep it all manageable, so there are only three things you really need to organize. 

Three things. You can totally do that.

get organized the plan sheet

get organized the plan sheet

get organized the plan sheet

I chose:

  • Owen’s drawers because he had been asking for help for weeks, and I’d been too busy;
  • our laundry room because, well, it was just gross;
  • and our kitchen drawers because I literally open it five times each day, and every single time, I got more angry and more cranky;
  • I also added a fourth–my work finances–because I’ve tried for years now to find a system that works, and nothing really seems to do it for me.

I filled out my little sheet, and I got started.

I was ready–determined–to do this, so the physical organizing happened quickly for me, and it was also done over holiday break when my husband was home from work most days.

The finance piece? I’m giving myself all month to figure it out.

And when you’re finished with it, feel proud.

Take a photo. Share it on our facebook page or instagram, and tag it #livefocused.

That way, we’ll all see that we’re in this together and though it may be my laundry room or kitchen drawers that need organizing, it may be your pots and pans or your pantry.



heaven help me #organizing #books #newyear #startingfresh

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on




I am thrilled to really embrace 2015. Watch out world, crazy things can happen when a bunch of smart women (and men!) are a little more focused!

Here. We. GO!

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:

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ive focused in 2015 organization sq

#livefocused posts:

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

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



live focused in 2015

Happy New Year, friends.

As we move into the new year, I want you to know that I am so very thankful for each one of you.


I thank you for reading. I thank you for subscribing. I thank you for hanging in with me through the years.

I love writing, I love creating, and I love sharing, so I’m a million times grateful that this–blogging–has become my job.

And the most important thing here is that it wouldn’t be a job if it weren’t for you.

So hugely, from the bottom of my heart, gracias.

But what I’ve noticed in the past year is that this space is changing, I am changing, and we are changing.

And so we are going to make some serious changes over here.

Changes that I think will be really, truly beneficial to us all.

I hope that you’ll join us for this ride.  We’ll all benefit–I promise.

Your kids. Your spouse. Your friends. Your neighbors. Your family.

You. And me.

It’s about living with focus in 2015. Living intentionally.

Because we get one life.

So let’s do it up.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .


live focused in 2015 small

Live Focused in 2015–Give Yourself a Fresh Start and Live with Intention

My friends.

I promise I’m not going all sappy nutty on you. I’m really not.

I’m actually already half nutty from this parenting gig, so that’s nothing new.

And I’ve always been emotional and sappy.

But what I will promise is that this year is going to be a year of change.

And I’d love for you to come along with me for the ride.

I’m not promising perfect because perfect’s impossible.

I’m not guaranteeing greatness because greatness is fleeting.

I’m not encouraging immediate awesome because, well, everything worthwhile seems to take some time.

live focused in 2015 |


What I am suggesting is that together we do what we can to live with more intention, more focus, in 2015.

I started this blog way back in 2008 to encourage parents everywhere to do what they can to sneak in some learning into their kids’ every day. And for a long time, that worked.

We had little ones at home, for hours and hours and hours, and I knew that there were fun, cool things that parents could to do help build a foundation for learning, all with minimal effort and huge returns.

And together we got our kids off to the wilds of Kindergarten, then year by year, one by one, into elementary school.

But now? Things are different.

live focused in 2015 |


Though our kids are in school for most of the day, we’re still so busy.  We’re working, we’re scheduling, we’re volunteering.  We’re grocery shopping, coupon-clipping, and bill paying. We’re turning in permission slips, cutting our box tops, collecting donations, and packing lunches.

We’re crock-potting, speed cleaning, and skimming.

We’re running ourselves ragged schlepping kids to and from sports and activities, orthodontist appointments, and ‘hangouts’ (because goodness knows they’re too old for ‘playdates’).

We’re dashing. Dancing. Moving. Skating. Jogging. Swimming. Through. Life. 

And we’re not really thinking.  We’re just doing. Moving.

And friends, before we know it, it’ll all be a blur.

And we’ll be standing in the driveway staring at a packed Suburban, filled with luggage and linens and books and baskets, getting ready to send our baby off to college and wondering where the heck all the time went.

Sob. I can’t even.

So this year, I’m trying to take it back.


live focused in 2015 |

I’m going to take back the reigns of my life, and try–try as best as I can–to live more intentionally, to live focused in 2015. 

I’m doing this because I really need it. Believe me.

And I’d love for you to join me.

So I’m getting refocused in this here bloggy blog. I’m going to focus on the same goal I set forth back in 2008:

to share the tools and resources parents need to be the best teachers they can be for their children.

I’m still going to focus on learning in the every day.

And I’m going to focus on family, literacy, and what we can do to support our digital kids.

live focused in 2015 focus

But I’m going to post a bit less frequently and instead focus on quality over quantity.

Less really is more sometimes.

Because the content here is free for you, I’m going to still have to do some sponsored posts, but my focus is to create longterm partnerships with brands that really matter. With brands that really rock.

And I’m going to really, truly focus on you–my subscribers

So we’re going to rock it out with a bunch of subscriber-only giveaways.  That means nothing if you already subscribe except that you’re awesome and starting now you should read to the very end of the post (or at least scroll all the way down and check the box after the post for a whole lot of happy).

But it also means that if you don’t already subscribe, then you’ll definitely want to:

  • subscribe either to our rockstar emails and get 2-3 posts each week the day after they’re published, or
  • subscribe to our newsy-newsletter and get one email each Tuesday with all of the posts from the week. Either works.

teachmama subscriber screener

As far as the whole focused in 2015 is concerned, I’ve come to some conclusions:

1.  As our children get older, we’ve got to show them that we, as parents, are doing the best we can to live this life to its fullest.

We’ve got to show them that we are doing our best to live focused and intentionally.

We’ve got to show them that we are trying to be organized.

We’re nurturing relationships.

We’re taking care of ourselves.

We’re listening and loving and moving through life with a plan.

We do this so that our kids do the same.

live focused in 2015

2. This is the year I’ll also be focusing on what we are doing to live intentionally, to live focused in 2015.

I’ll still share the cool stuff I usually do, but each month, I’ll also include a focus.

January- organization: in routine, in schedule, in home

It’s time to get on it. Get your house in order and create routine that works for your family. Life is too short to let it pass you by, and it’s time to climb out from under the mess and live intentionally. But in order to live intentionally, you’ve got to get organized.

February-friendship: with spouse, colleagues, siblings, parents, kids, girlfriends

What do you do to nurture your friendships? How much time do you actually put into keeping up with your oldest pals? Do you ever organize a girls’ night out? A date night? How well do you really know your kids?

March-clarity: of thought, words, action

Sometimes we need a re-start in the way we’re thinking, speaking, and interacting with others.  Let’s make sure our in-house behavior systems, rules, and guidelines are established and clear.  Let’s get refocused in the way we speak to our kids, spouse, and friends. Let’s try to align our thoughts and actions.

April-growth: emotional, mental, physical

Face it. we all need to grow in some way, shape, or form. Learning never needs to cease. Have you really worked your brain lately? What do you need to do to stay up to date with work or well-being? April is a month to learn how to better care for ourselves, kids, family.

May-self: you, you, you

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. When was the last time you took time out for you? What do you really, truly love to do? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. If you know and haven’t done it for a while, now’s the time to get rolling with it.

live focused in 2015 months


June-family: make family time count

School’s out. Time to really unplug and spend time with your kids now that they’re out of school. Our tabletop surprises will keep you constantly filled with ideas for creative, innovative ways to spend time with your kids.

July-breath: because breathing really helps

Sure, it’s summer. And a whole lot happens in summer that makes us forget about our New Year intentions and focus. But let’s check in on January organization. Do you need a restart? How are things going with friends, growth, or your self-care?  Before we freak out, we’re going to make breathing a focus this month as we slowly get back on track.

August-time: take control

How are you using your time? Life is moving quickly.  Are you making sure you’re living each day to the fullest? Parenting is hard—there’s no doubt about that. And juggling a spouse, work, and a household makes it even more difficult.  But even if we spend a few minutes each week giving our days some focus, we’re taking control. We’re still in charge.

September-learning: back to school means everyone learns

Back to school means we’re all learning a whole new routine and system.  How are we, as parents, best interacting with our kids, their teachers, and schools? Are we supporting them the best we are able? What do we need to learn in order to do so? New strategies? New concepts?

October-honesty: with ourselves and others

Halloween means that our kids are on a quest to find disguises, but let’s be honest this month with ourselves before the holiday season begins. Let’s be honest about how we think and feel, and let’s do what we can to make sure we’re sharing are true and awesome selves with the world.

November-giving: set an example of gratitude

We all have so much for which we should be thankful, so let’s give what we can to those who need it. Setting an example of giving and gratitude for our children is super-important from the start, especially during their formative elementary years. No better time than now to give to the world the best we have.

December-peace: finding beauty in the basics

It’s so very difficult not to get caught up in the holiday whirlwind, trying to create a perfectly pinteresting holiday for our family. But we don’t need to go crazy. We really don’t. Let’s focus on the important things and strive for more peace in our 2015 holiday seasons.


live focused in 2015 share

Never fear, friends.

I’m not going to leave you high and dry here. We’re doing this together. Baby steps.

Each month I plan to:

  • share printables which will help us get focused and live intentionally;
  • do some fun giveaways, freebies, and contests for subscribers only–that means you!;
  • invite experts in to share their ideas and suggestions;
  • create videos with tricks, tools, and ideas for our topics;
  • share the normal, awesome content you have come to expect, with the #livefocused added in as a bonus (yay!);
  • use our Facebook page as a place to support each other, chat, and share high-fives (like a freebie, fab support group);
  • share photos from my journey on Instagram and Twitter using #livefocused;
  • do round-ups of your photos, ideas, and experiences across platforms;
  • quite honestly, learn as I go–from you and from others!;
  • offer follow-ups and extensions that may help you in this adventure.

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

I’m excited. I’ve got so much planned, and it’s only the first Monday of the month.

I cannot wait to really embrace 2015. Watch out world, crazy things can happen when a bunch of smart women (and men!) are a little more focused!

Here. We. GO!

Check it all out video-style:

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

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:

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ive focused in 2015 organization sq

new year’s family plan: 100 good deeds

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds

sponsored post
new year's family plan: 100 good deeds

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 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.


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

26 fun family traditions to start this year

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 -

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

26 fun family traditions 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 BKGD

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

26 fun family traditions BKGD

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: