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Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

It can be such a struggle to get my kids to try new foods. They want to eat the same things over and over. Luckily, they like to eat lots of fruit and some veggies, so I can’t complain too much. But I do strive to widen their palate while they are young, because I was such a picky eater growing up. Now I like many different foods and wish to expose my kids to a healthy variety and hope they like some of them. My children tend to eat small portions throughout the day, so I’m constantly searching for new recipes. If you are also in need of some new ideas, I’ve included 8 healthy snacks your kids will love in this post.

Click on the pictures for the original posts and recipes…

Oatmeal Energy Bites

Oatmeal energy bites are a tasty, filling bite of goodness your children will love. Mix 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup honey, and 1/4 cup ground flax-seed together in a bowl. Roll into balls and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can store them in a Ziploc bag for 3 or 4 days, but I doubt they will last that long. You can also substitute other ingredients your kids enjoy, such as fruit, nuts, or other small candies.

Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins

I have made these muffins a few times now, and they are delicious! Simply add 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 medium ripe bananas, 2 large eggs, 2 cups of oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda to a blender. Blend on high until smooth, then fold in 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (regular is fine too). Pour the batter into a muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the tops are set. This recipe would also make a delicious bread. I put my muffins in a zip lock back and they stayed good for a week.

Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

I LOVE this zucchini bread! I will warn you though, it is very rich and chocolatey. You might consider leaving out some of the cocoa powder or chocolate chips if you don’t want it to be too rich. Another suggestion I have is to puree the zucchini. It smooths out the texture so your kids won’t even know there are healthy vegetables in there! Check out the full recipe on the image above.

Healthy Apple Donuts

Who doesn’t love a snack with a healthy balance of fruit and candy! Theses healthy apple donuts allow your kids to use their imagination when creating their own snack. Use peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, melted chocolate or white chocolate, with sprinkles or chocolate chips, the list goes on.

Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries

These frozen yogurt covered blueberries are a real treat, and super easy to make. Just simply cover the blueberries with your child’s favorite flavor of yogurt and freeze. Store them in individual baggies and you’ve got a healthy ready to go snack when you need it. Click on the picture above to find other unique snack ideas.

Apple Turtle Snack

We all know that our children are more likely to eat something if it’s visually appealing. These sea turtle snacks are so cute, and your kids will think they are so fun! The post above has other appealing snacks with fruit, including a sheep, octopus, and an owl. Check it out!

Honey Lime Rainbow Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a versatile snack that allows you to add your child’s favorite fruits, and maybe sneak in something new for them to try. You can also use up the fruit that is in your fridge so that it is not wasted. Use the recipe above or create your own. I tend to leave out the honey and lime and just mix the fruit together. I also like to serve this with cinnamon sugar pita chips.

Nutella and Banana Sushi

Another easy snack idea is the Nutella and banana sushi. Just spread Nutella on a tortilla, add your banana, and roll up. You can cut it into easy to grab slices for a yummy treat on the go.  Another option would be to use peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips with the banana. Other ideas in the link above include Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bark, Back Yard Bug Snacks, and Dolphin Banana and Fruit Cups.

I hope this post provided some new and unique snack options for you to try with your children. Looking for more ideas? Be sure to follow my Healthy Snack Ideas Pinterest Board. And I would love to hear about your kids’ favorite snacks in the comments!

 

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How to Cope When Anxiety Threatens to Overwhelm You

How to Cope When Anxiety Threatens to Overwhelm You

Anxiety is a silent, invisible condition that often shows little outward symptoms. You may appear fine to others while on the inside, you are struggling to keep it all together. Because it is so hard to explain to those who’ve never experienced it, people are quick to blame your symptoms on something else, instead of acknowledging that anxiety is a real, life altering ailment.

I am going to get very personal here. Many people do not know that I have dealt with anxiety since the birth of my children. I have kept it very private. I have episodes where it is difficult to breathe, and a weight settles on my chest. I struggle with being in social situations, and would rather hide from the world if I could. Some days are worse than others. It is physically and emotionally draining. Medication has helped quite a bit, but I still have days when I feel the effects of anxiety.

Anxiety is not something you can just will out of your life. Believe me, I’ve tried. It comes and goes as it pleases and you have no control over when it decides to show up. If you are experiencing anxiety, I urge you to discuss it with your doctor. There are many medications that can help you control those anxious feelings. Unfortunately, there will still be days that you struggle. I would like to share with you how to cope when anxiety threatens to overwhelm you. I have found these techniques helpful on those hard days, and I hope you do too.

Find Support

When dealing with anxiety, it is easy to stay closed off and keep how you are feeling inside. I’ve tried that, and it will only get worse if you don’t discuss your emotion state with someone. Find someone you can be open and honest with.  Ask them to be your support; to talk with you regularly, pray with you and for you. Talking it through and knowing you’ve got someone in your corner encouraging you can be helpful.

Deep Breathing

When those anxious thoughts become overwhelming, stop what you are doing, find a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Taking just a couple of minutes to do this exercise can help calm you, and if needed, do this several times a day. I use my Fitbit to take relaxing breaths, and I find it very helpful, especially on days that are more stressful. If you don’t have a Fitbit, set a timer for 2 minutes, find a comfortable place to sit and just breathe.

Find Calming Activities

I love music, so it’s a natural outlet for dealing with anxiety. YouTube has music especially designed for anxiety relief that I use often. I’ve also created a playlist of my favorite worship songs that calm me. Coloring in the adult coloring books, writing, taking a walk, and reading a good book are other relaxing activities that I enjoy. Doing things that you love can help ease those exhausting anxious feelings.

Write Out Your Feelings

Keeping my thoughts written down in a journal has been very helpful in dealing with anxiety. I can freely express how I’m feeling, and getting those thoughts out is therapeutic for me. I also like to write down what I’m thankful for, to help me realign my perspective on the positive things in my life. I recently came across the idea of keeping track of my moods in a bullet journal. You label each day of the month with how you are feeling that day: happy, angry, sad, tired, worried/anxious. This is a great way to determine how many days you are feeling anxious, and you may discover some triggers that you can try to avoid.

Rely On God

Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve learned to let go of the things I cannot control, and put them in God’s hands. I do not have all the answers, but I know the One who does. When I’m feeling anxious, I pray, and I read my Bible. I find those scriptures that encourage me, and I repeat them over and over until I get the peace and the answers I need. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Psalm 91:1(AMPC)  – He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (whose power no foe can withstand)

Philippians 4:6-8 (AMPC) – Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

For more inspiring scriptures, you can subscribe to my blog and check out my free resource: Encouraging Scriptures for Every Day Life. 

If you are dealing with anxiety, you are NOT alone. Please feel free to connect with me below, by email, or on social media. We are in this together!

And if you have any other tips to help those of us dealing with this condition, please share them in the comments!

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Quick, Easy, and Budget Friendly Meals Your Entire Family Will Love

Quick, Healthy, and Budget Friendly Meals Your Entire Family Will Love

If you are like me, you are constantly searching for new recipes that both your children and your spouse will love, but won’t break the bank. And the easier the better, right? Pinterest has TONS of recipes you can search through to find meals your whole family will enjoy, and I’ve put some of our favorites in this post. Read on for 5 quick, healthy, and budget friendly meals your family will love!

Baked Ravioli

My kids LOVE ravioli, and with just three ingredients, this recipe will be a cinch to make on a busy weeknight. All you need is one 26 oz jar of marinara sauce (we like Bertolli ), one 25 oz bag of frozen ravioli, 2 cups of mozzarella, and a sprinkle of parmesan. Make two layers of the sauce, ravioli, and mozzarella, and sprinkle the parmesan on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes covered, and 15 minutes more uncovered. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

You can find the full, original recipe from Tasty Kitchen here.

Slow Cooker Baked Spaghetti

This recipe from The Magical Slow Cooker is a twist on classic spaghetti with the added cheesy goodness of ricotta and cream cheese. The best part, it’s made in the crock pot! To make, season 1.5 lbs of meat with onion, garlic, oregano, dried basil, and salt, then brown. Add the meat and two 24 oz jars of marinara sauce to your crock pot (again, I like to use Bertolli) and cook on low for six hours. Cook your noodles according to the package and add to the meat sauce. Mix 4 oz of cream cheese and 1 cup of ricotta, spread on top and cover with 2 cups of mozzarella. Cook for 20 more minutes, then enjoy!

Tip: my family does not like the texture of onion and garlic clove, so I substitute onion and garlic powder, which still gives it a great taste.

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

Six Sisters’ Stuff has a delicious chicken teriyaki recipe that can be made in the crock pot, because easy! You mix 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3 teaspoons minced garlic (or garlic powder) and pour over your 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cook on low for six hours. Fix your 2 cups of rice according to package (we like jasmine rice), and steam 2 cups of carrots and 2 cups of broccoli. Serve the chicken and vegetables over the rice.

Easy Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan

For this easy recipe, you will need 4 chicken breasts, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of milk, 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs, 1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella. Combine the milk and egg, dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs, and place in a 13 x 9 dish. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, add the marinara and mozzarella, then back an additional 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta or side dishes. You can view the original post and recipe from Easy Recipe Depot here.

Easy Hamburger Soup

Hamburger Soup is an easy, versatile recipe that can be reheated for several days, or even frozen for a later meal. When I make hamburger soup, I use 2 lbs of ground beef or beef stew meat, 46 oz tomato juice with 1 cup water, and our favorite veggies: corn, peas, green beans, carrots, and potatoes. I also like to add barley to make it more hearty. And you will need to season with salt and pepper to taste. You can change it up by adding your family’s favorite ingredients. You can find Spend with Pennies recipe here.

If you are looking for more ideas, check out my Quick, Easy, and Budget Friendly Meals Pinterest Board here. And if you subscribe to my blog, you can check out my Meal Plan/Shopping List/Daily Schedule for free!

I would love for you to share your go to easy meals below! Hope to hear from you!

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Fun Family Fall Festivities

Fun Family Fall Festivities

I love this time of year. The beautiful fall colors, cooler temperatures, and lots of fun family fall festivities! Just this past weekend, my family and I attended an event at a local dairy farm with train rides, slides, face painting, balloon animals, and a petting zoo. You could also visit the pumpkin patch and pick out your own pumpkin. We had a blast! There are so many fun things to do this time of year, and the best part is, most are inexpensive or free! Some popular ideas include visiting a pumpkin patch or farm, painting and carving pumpkins, as well as going through a corn maze. Here are a few more unique ideas for you and your family to enjoy.

Have a Nature Scavenger Hunt

My family and I enjoy going for walks during the fall season. It’s so colorful and a lot cooler than summer days. A fun activity to try on your walk is a nature scavenger hunt. Look for certain items on the trail. These could include: different types of leaves, something fuzzy, something smooth, something round, a beautiful rock, something you think is a treasure, and so on. If you would like a free printable version of a scavenger hunt, check out this post by The Taylor House.

Make a Pumpkin Craft

One of my children’s favorite activities is to create things, and what better way to celebrate fall than with a DIY pumpkin craft! Kids Activity Blog has an awesome list of easy pumpkin activities you can choose from, including themed sensory bins, edible pumpkin pie play dough, painted pumpkin rocks, paper plate pumpkins, and much more! For more fall craft ideas, check out Easy Fall Kids Crafts That Anyone Can Make by Happiness is Homemade.

Go Apple Picking/Make a Pie

My daughter loves helping me in the kitchen, especially when we are making dessert. Going apple picking and using them to make a pie is a great opportunity to teach our children about where our food comes from. They will learn that people work hard to provide the food we eat, and it may instill a greater appreciation for our farmers and food industry in the process. And bonus, a yummy treat for the family to enjoy!

Go Star-Gazing

The clear fall sky is the perfect time to go star gazing. One of my fondest memories is of star gazing with my husband and his family. We took air mattresses and blankets out in their yard to watch a meteor shower. It was such a magical, serene experience. One I will remember forever. I hope to make these types of memories with my children. It can be as simple as spreading a blanket in your yard, having hot chocolate, and pointing out the different discoveries you make in the night sky. I hope to do this with my kids this year.

Plan a Costume Dinner

With Halloween just around the corner, it is a great time to incorporate fun Halloween activities, such as a costume dinner. Everyone can choose a costume to wear at dinner time. How fun! Chirping Moms have a free Halloween Bucket List with other great ideas like decorating a haunted gingerbread house and taking an evening walk with flashlights to look at Halloween decorations. Check out their entire list for more unique activities.

Check Your Community Calendar

Our local park district, rec center, and libraries all offer Fun Family Fall Festivities, including nature walks, movie nights, themed story times, nature series, seed collection and more! Find out what’s happening in your community this fall season and have your family choose something fun to do together.

For even more Fun Family Fall Festivities, check out my Pinterest board Fun Family Activities. And please share your family’s favorites in the comments!

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5 of The Best Educational Websites for Children

5 of The Best Educational Websites for Children

As a former classroom teacher, I can attest to the fact that websites are becoming an important part of our children’s education. There are so many websites that offer fun ways to teach the foundational skills children need to succeed. The great thing about online educational practice is that it can also be accessed at home. Here are five of the best sites I’ve used in my classroom and with my own children at home.

ABC Mouse

ABC Mouse is a great site for children learning basic skills. There are games, puzzles, books, songs, art, as well as other activities to help students learn reading and math skills, and about the world around them.  An individual learning path is also available for each child where they can progress at their own pace. If you are a teacher, ABC mouse can be accessed in the classroom or at your home for free. There is a yearly fee for parents who are not educators. If you would like to learn more about ABC mouse, please visit their site at http://www.abcmouse.com

Starfall

Starfall is another website where children can practice educational skills. There are interactive activities, songs, and printables for phonics, reading, and math skills through first grade, and select math practice for second grade students. There are also fun holiday themed activities that your children will enjoy. A free version of Starfall is available, as well as an expanded paid version at a very affordable fee of $35 a year. You can also browse their store for curriculum products, books, practice books, home school and classroom kits, as well as other teaching tools for use at home or in your classroom. You can access this site here.

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is a full curriculum that teaches your child the phonics and literacy skills they need to become successful readers. Your child will complete lessons designed to help their reading skills progress in a particular order. They will also complete quizzes at certain intervals to ensure they have mastered the content they’ve been taught, and their results are emailed to you, the parent. This site offers a more advance program for older children called Reading Eggspress, and also Reading Eggs Junior, a program for younger children ages 2-4.

Mathseeds

Mathseeds is a full math curriculum offered on the same site as Reading Eggs. Your child will complete lessons that teach numbers, shapes, addition, subtraction, as well as many other math skills in a specific order that gradually increases in difficulty. Like Reading Eggs, Mathseeds gives quizzes at certain intervals to check their understanding, and again, you will receive an email showing their progress. You can purchase Reading Eggs and Mathseeds separately, or together for a better price. As someone who has used both of these programs in my classroom and at home with my five-year old, I believe they are worth the money.  If you would like to know more about these programs, visit their site here and sign up for a free trial.

GoNoodle

When I worked in the classroom, I LOVED using GoNoodle for brain breaks and transitions into a new activity. This site has tons of silly songs and physical activities to get your child up and moving. Your children can practice skills while being active, or just use up some energy on a rainy day. The best part is that it’s FREE for school or for your home. You can create your account here.

If you would like a complete list fun educational websites that are free, please subscribe to my blog, then check out this list!

I hope you and your child find these sites useful for fun learning experiences. If you visit these websites, I’d love to know what you think! Or if there are other educational sites you’ve found I’d love to know about those too! Please comment below.

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How to Discover Your Purpose Outside of the Home

How to Discover Your Purpose Outside the Home

As mamas, we are so busy taking care of our home and family. The constant demands of cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, homework, and the rest of our to do list often requires all of our energy. We pour our hearts and souls into raising our children and creating a loving home, and sometimes we forget there’s more to life than being a mom. I’m sure like me, you have dreams and goals you want to accomplish. If we aren’t careful, our long lists of things to get done overshadows our desires to be and do more, and we struggle to find balance between the two.

I ask myself often “What is my purpose?” and “Am I working toward my goals?” For a long time, I didn’t have an answer. After quitting my job and becoming a full-time mom, I found it difficult to define my purpose outside of motherhood. I didn’t have a clear direction for what was next, so I had no goals to work toward.  I felt stuck in an endless cycle of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other chores, while meeting my children’s needs.   Don’t get me wrong, I loved being home with my children full-time, but I also wanted more for my life.

How I Discovered My Purpose

The first thing I had to do, was change my perspective. The greatest purpose a mother has is raising her children. I had to remind myself that even if this was it for me, my children were my greatest purpose and number one priority. Next, I wrote down my dreams and the actions required to achieve them. Then I started completing those actions one by one, and my blog For Every Mama was born.  If you want to know how to discover your purpose beyond the home, keep reading! I’ll share with you some specific questions you can ask yourself to determine your purpose, and how to work toward making your dreams a reality!

If You Could Spend Your Time Doing Anything, What Would You Do?

Think about the things you enjoy doing most, and write them down. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, writing, teaching, and traveling. But if I could do anything, it would be to write a book.

What Are You Passionate About?

Write down the things you are passionate about. Some of my passions are writing, education, being a wife/mom, having fun with my family, raising respectful, well-rounded children, spending quality time with my children, making the most of my time, and helping and encouraging others.

What Activities Can Make You Lose Track of Time and Everything Else Around You?

I can easily lose track of time reading a good book, and writing. How about you? What activities do you get lost in? Write them down!

What Issues Are Important to You?

Being a former teacher, education is an important issue for me, and I believe we can all agree that raising children is a big issue for us mamas. What other issues are important to you?

What Natural Skills/Abilities do You Have?

We all have specific talents and abilities. My skills include a degree in education, as well as teaching experience. I also have an English minor with a strong background in writing. I am a very organized person and am task oriented. What are your special skills/abilities?

Next Steps

By answering the previous questions, my purpose became clear. After determining my purpose, my goal became to start a blog where I could use my abilities and passions for being a mom, writing and education to help others. If you are struggling with finding your purpose beyond motherhood, I challenge you to sit down and really consider your answers to these questions. Once you know your purpose, write down your goals and your steps to achieve them. If I can make my dreams a reality, then so can you!

If you found this post helpful, or you have other suggestions for finding your purpose, I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below. And if you would like a free printable of the questions above, just subscribe to my blog!

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When You Feel the Loneliness of Motherhood

When You Feel the Loneliness of Motherhood

Loneliness…we’ve all experienced it at one point or another on our journey through motherhood. We can feel lonely when we are new moms, overwhelmed by all of the responsibilities that come with a new baby. It can be lonely when our little ones need most of our time and attention, when our husbands are working long hours, or when we can’t seem to find to time to connect with our friends.

This past year, my husband’s career landed us in a new city, four hours from our family and friends. I went from being a full-time classroom teacher, to a full-time stay at home mom. Although I’ve loved the opportunity to be home with my children, I have found myself in a very lonely place. I miss my colleagues, my friends and family, and I’ve struggled to find my purpose outside of caring for my family and my home. I am an introvert by nature, so reaching out and making new friends has been difficult for me. Slowly but surely though, I’ve learned some strategies to help me cope with loneliness. If you find yourself in a lonely place, keep reading! You can use these same actions.

Get Connected

The best way to combat loneliness is to get connected with others. If possible, find groups in your community or local churches to join so that you can have face to face interactions with other moms. Of course there are times when the demands of motherhood overshadows any possibility of socializing outside of the home. It’s during these seasons that connecting on social media can be beneficial. There are so many online groups where you can vent, get advice and encouragement when you need it. Although they do not replace communicating with others in person, they are a great option for feeling connected to other moms who knows exactly what you are going through

Community Mom Groups

Finding groups specifically for moms is a great way to meet new people who can relate to the ups and downs of motherhood. One group I am particularly fond of is MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). They connect moms all over the world, and there is a good chance there is already a MOPS group in your community. You can also choose to start your own. You can find more information about MOPS here.  Another great place to find mommy groups are local churches. Many of them have small groups/Bible studies that provide teachings and encouragement just for moms. Church websites usually offer information about the types of programs they offer.

Facebook “mommy” groups

It seems there are challenging situations that come with each new stage of being a parent. You can find online communities specific to your current season of motherhood and get unbiased opinions and advice for whatever you need. It can be so encouraging and comforting to find that so many other mamas have dealt with exactly the same things you are facing. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to search for mommy groups on Facebook and find one that fits your current needs. You can also join my Facebook page here.

Mommy Blogs

Other online communities you can join are mommy blogs. Like Facebook groups, there are many blogs out there with specific audiences they would like to reach and you can find those that have great content and discussions focused on topics that speak to you and your current circumstances. A lot of blogs also have free resources that can make your day-to-day life as a momma a little easier, including organization tips, easy recipe ideas, and much more. I would love for you to join my community! You can do so at the bottom of this post.

Join a Club

Another way to combat loneliness is to join a club. Think about the hobbies you enjoy and find a club related to that hobby. If you like to read, join a book club. If you enjoy scrapbooking, sewing, or crafting, find a group specific to that niche. And if there are none in your community that interest you, consider starting your own. You can also look for clubs based on new hobbies you would like to try. Succeeding at things you’ve never done before can boost your confidence and connect you with people you may not have met otherwise.

When You Still Feel Lonely

Sometimes, loneliness goes beyond the need to be connected. Sometimes, it is an issue of the heart. Maybe you’ve been hurt in the past and find it difficult to get close to others, afraid to be hurt again. Maybe you are dealing with a silent illness, such as depression or anxiety, and you are reluctant to open up, afraid you will be judged or misunderstood and rejected. When you feel like you don’t measure up or don’t belong, it’s time to look to the One who created you. A deep, meaningful relationship with God can feel the emptiness and loneliness in your soul like no one else.

Here are some of my favorite scriptures I like to quote when I’m in a tough situation, or when I’m feeling lonely or discouraged:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:6-8). The entire chapter of Psalm 91 is also a favorite.

If we can remember to pray instead of complain, and to think on the positives in our lives and be grateful for what is going right, our entire perspective can change, and we can find peace no matter what challenges come our way.

If you would like more encouraging scriptures, subscribe to my blog below, then check out my freebie here. And if you need prayer or encouragement for a specific situation, please comment below, or send me an email. I am here for you!

 

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How to Engage and Entertain Your Little Ones

How to Engage and Entertain Your Little Ones

As a mama of littles ones, it can be difficult to find activities that keep them engaged and entertained.  They get bored very easily, making it nearly impossible to keep their attention for any length of time. I’ve been there; and when you need quiet time of your own, or time to get things accomplished, it cannot be done unless your children are busy doing their own activities. The easy solution is to put them in front of a screen, but easy is not always best. I want my children to use their minds and senses to explore the world around them and to develop a love for learning in the process.

How can I Keep My Little Ones Engaged and Entertained?

Every child has different interests and preferred learning styles, even at a young age. So finding the best activities for your children might take some trial and error on your part. You can research tons of ideas on Pinterest and the web. I would also suggest planning multiple activities for the different days of the week to assist in keeping your child’s interest.

Six Ways to Help Keep Your Children Occupied

Here are 6 types of activities that I know your young children will enjoy! And if you would like a printable list of activities, be sure to subscribe to my blog below and gain access to my resource page!

Busy Bags

Busy bags are a cinch to make and can be so versatile! You can easily change out the materials to create a whole new activity. You can create busy bags for colors, shapes and patterns, letters and numbers, puzzles, fine motor practice and so much more! And they are GREAT on the go for car trips, restaurants, or any other place your child may need to be occupied. You can find TONS of ideas and free printables on Pinterest and other mom blogs. Check out the links below and never run out of ideas for your busy bags!

Best Busy Bags for Preschoolers and Toddlers – One Creative Mommy  

Over 100 Awesome Busy Bags Perfect for Toddlers and Preschoolers – B-Inspired Mama

20 Free Printable Busy Bags – Coffee Cups and Crayons

Sensory Bins

Sensory Bins are a unique way to keep little ones engaged. You can use beans, pasta, rice, oats, sand, as well as other materials, and allow your children to find little treasures. Place items such as farm animals, dinosaurs, letters, numbers, and buttons in the sensory bin for your child to discover. It is important to note that, unless you want a huge mess on your hands, you must first introduce your children to sensory bins before they can use them independently. The post Introducing toddlers to sensory bins has some great ideas on how to do this. The following links will give you some great ideas for creating your own bins.

Sensory Bin Ideas for Kids – Growing a Jeweled Rose

Alphabet Sensory Play – Pre-K Pages

Seasonal sensory tubs for every month – Nurture Store

Playdough Mats

In my experience as both a Kindergarten teacher, and a mom of two little ones, I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love to play with playdough (of course you have to remind smaller children not to eat it). It can be a great tool for learning letters, numbers, and shapes and also a fun way for kids to express their creativity and imagination.  To create your own playdough mats, find printables of letters, shapes, numbers, or other objects that interest your child, laminate them or place them in a sheet protector, and your child is free to use them again and again.  Below are some free resources you can use for making your  own.

100 Free Playdough Mats – Playdough to Plato

Fall Playdough Mats & Other Fall Activities – totschooling

Free Printable Tree Play Dough Number Mats for Counting to 10 – Life Over C’s

Painting Fun

Painting can be such a fun activity for children, and it’s great for developing their fine motor skills and teaching them about colors, lines, shapes, and other art elements. Children can experiment with their hands, different types of brushes, paper and canvases, and mixing colors. There are also some great mess free options to use for smaller children or for when you just don’t want a huge mess to clean up. If you want some unique ideas for painting activities, just click on the links below!

21 Creative Yet Easy Finger And Thumb Painting Ideas For Kids – Mom Junction

DIY Sidewalk Foam Paint – The Tiptoe Fairy

Mess Free Art: Stained Glass Window Painting – eHow Mom Blog

Printables

With the invention of sites such as Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers came thousands of printable learning activities, many of which can be accessed for free and used to assist your child in developing and growing fundamental skills.  You can find resources for every subject and grade level, including pre-k activities for toddlers. Just simply search for activities that are age appropriate for your child and print. You can find a ton of meaningful learning experiences that provide some quiet time for you, mama. Below are just a few of the resources you can access for free.

Free Home Preschool – Preschool Mom

Printable Free Matching Activities for Toddlers – the measured mom

200+ Free Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten – From ABC’s to ACTs

Crafts

Crafts are another great way to keep children engaged and entertained. You can find activities that tie into fun themes, seasons and holidays, or to reinforce learning skills. They are usually very inexpensive and can often be made with materials you already have in your home. Of course crafts tend to be very messy and will require quite a cleanup afterward. You can use times such as these to have children help pick up after themselves. If you would like some ideas for creating crafts, use the links below.

18 creative paper plate crafts – Wellies and Lemonade

Easy Fall Crafts That Anyone Can Make – Happiness is Homemade

List of Christmas Crafts for Kids to Create – crafty morning

For even more ideas, be sure to subscribe and get access to my free printable HUGE List of Quiet Time Activities for Your Little Ones and check out my Pinterest Board Quiet Time Activities

I hope this list will become a go-to resource when you are in need of some activities to engage and entertain your little ones. If you have other ideas for quiet time activities, please share below! And don’t forget to connect with me on Social Media!

 

Cleaning Facebook Cover Photo

3 Ways to Conquer Cleaning

Conquer Cleaning

3 Ways to Conquer Cleaning

One common thread that runs throughout motherhood is there never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. The constant demands of raising our children oftentimes leave many items on our to-do list unchecked, including housework. Toys, clutter, laundry, and other chores quickly pile up, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and at a loss of where to start. A cluttered and disorganized home became a great source of stress for me, so I began looking for ways to incorporate cleaning into more manageable time chunks.

Schedule a Time Each Day to Clean

We all have a certain time of day when there are fewer distractions and we can be more productive.  For some it may be early mornings. For others it could be during nap time, while the kids are in school, the evenings when your spouse is home, or at night when the kids are in bed.

What Time Works Best For You?

Only you can determine what time works best for you. Take a look at your day and see where you can consistently allot time for cleaning, and write it down! I find that if I have a clear plan for how I want to spend my time, I am much more productive. This can work for your entire to do list, not just for housework.

What if I Don’t Have Free Time to Devote to Cleaning?

I know that as a mama, setting aside distraction free time may not always be possible, especially with small children. I have been there, and it can make it very difficult to stick to a schedule. For those times, I recommend finding activities that can keep your children engaged and entertained. If you would like some ideas, check out my post How to Engage and Entertain Your Little Ones.

Follow a Cleaning Schedule

I am a planner by nature, so creating a list made me feel so much better about my days and getting things accomplished. I wrote down everything that needed to be done and divided it by each day of the work week to make my list more manageable. Once I had a plan, I could wake up early and complete my tasks efficiently.

How Do I Create a Cleaning Schedule?

To create my cleaning schedule, I decided to focus on one area of the home each day:

  • Monday: Living Room/Office/Den
  • Tuesday: Bedrooms
  • Wednesday: Kitchen
  • Thursday: Bathrooms
  • Friday: Planning Day

I also made a list of things that needed attention daily, such as making beds and washing dishes.  Seeing my once daunting cleaning to-do list broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks relieved a great deal of stress. And once into practice, I could have a clean house with just a little work each day of the week.

If you would like to receive my complete Daily Cleaning Schedule, you can get exclusive access by subscribing below!

Choose One Area to Deep Clean Every Week

How to Incorporate Deep Cleaning into Your Schedule

In addition to daily cleaning tasks, there are times when certain parts of the home need a deep cleaning. In my Daily Cleaning Schedule, I have made a list of eight areas that should be cleaned once a month. My goal is to focus on two of these tasks every week to ensure that all areas of the home are properly cleaned.

Other Tips for Increasing Productivity

I like to end my day like I begin it, which means I want to wake up to a mess free home. This is easily accomplished by taking a little time before bed to pick up toys, shoes, clothing, and other clutter that has piled up through the day. If your children are old enough to help, get them involved in picking up to save even more time. By taking a few extra minutes at night, I can begin focused on my to-do list for that day and not the things left undone from the day before.

If you found this information helpful or have other cleaning tips to share, I’d love to hear from you! You can also connect with me on Social Media.