Back to School Snacks on the Go from SunRype *GIVEAWAY*

My kindergartner is a snack fiend. Seriously I have to hide the school snacks or he’d be helping himself to them all day long. And you know how that goes; then the kid doesn’t want to eat his dinner! We’ve taken to limiting the purchase of pre-packaged snacks in the home because he’ll eat them all up so quickly.
However I do like to have snacks with me on hand to take on-to-go. Fruit and veggies are ideal, but not always practical. My kids won’t eat a bruised up apple and fresh strawberries are best when chilled.
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
We recently received samples of SunRype Fruit to Go. These are 100% fruit strip snacks, which I love. My first choice for snacks isn’t something heavily processed or that adds a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce. No added processed sugar here, just natural ingredients and no preservatives.
SunRype Fruit to Go are perfect for the back-to-school lunch box because they are also vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and peanut-free. Even my husband packs them in his lunch box (and he’s very particular about his food!)
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
I received complimentary samples in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links. Clicking and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!
We tried both SunRype Fruit to Go in Apple Strawberry and Apple Strawberry Watermelon Flavors. They have a pleasant, fresh and flavorful taste. Not overly sweet and no aftertaste. And at only 50 calories, this little snack isn’t ruining anyone’s dinner!
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
SunRype also offers a 100% fruit and vegetable bar called FruitSource. In flavors like Apple Mango Strawberry Carrot, I’m excited to try those next time! These make for the perfect school snack.

SunRype is available in the produce department at most grocers next to the fruits and vegetables. It is also available from Amazon. (SunRype Apple Strawberry Fruit to Go 100% Fruit Strip Snacks and SunRype Apple Mango Strawberry Carrot Fruitsource 100% Fruit Bar)

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY or enter on the SunRypeUSA Facebook page.


WEEKLY PRIZE PACK DRAWING/PRIZE DETAILS:
From July 24 – August 28th, 2017 from the current entries received at the time of the drawing, the sponsor will be selecting at random two (2) winners each week (“Weekly Winner(s)”) beginning on Monday, July 31st, 2017 to win a prize package consisting of:

o   **A Blu-ray of “The Lion King” valued at SRP $39.99USD **Not Available Until August 29th, 2017

o   $50 Pre-loaded Credit Card

o   The Lion King BackPack – Suggested Retail Value $50

o   1 Case Of SunRype Product – SunRype Fruit To Go Strips/ FruitSource Fruit Bars Valued at approximately  $20-$25 USD) 

Prize packages collectively have an approximate retail value of $160-165.00 USD each.  There are a total of 10 of these weekly prize packages available to be won and the last drawing will be done on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017.  Entries will be carried over from one week to the next, however any one (1) person is only eligible to win one (1) prize throughout the entire Promotion period.

Preparing Your Child for the First Day of Kindergarten

My 5 year old starts kindergarten in less than two weeks (cue Mom’s tears!) He’s crazy excited about school so that makes preparing him for kindergarten sort of easy. Not all kids are like that though – My eldest was terribly nervous and anxious about his first day of kindergarten. Getting kids ready to learn, choosing at-home school supplies and even cute photo ops can add to the excitement. Here are a few ways to prepare your child for the first day of kindergarten!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking the links and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. “Play” School at Home

If your child has never been to school before the entire concept may be daunting and confusing. Outline what will happen throughout the day. Describe terms they might not know like work study, arts and crafts, recess, lunch period, quiet time and free play. Role play can help kids know what to expect and ease the jitters.

Home workbooks like these can get your kinder kid prepared for what they might be seeing from their teacher during school. (BIG Kindergarten Workbook and Reading & Math Jumbo Workbook: Grade K)

   

2. Read Books Together

Story time is a big deal in kindergarten! And of course you already know that about 30 minutes of reading each night is ideal to develop reading skills in kids.

These are two favorite books I know about the first day of school. They are sure to put a smile on the face of your nervous kindergartner. These books are must-haves! (The Kissing Hand and First Day Jitters)

   

3. Make Learning Fun

Teaching basics like letter recognition and how to properly hold a pencil will start kids off on the right foot. Supply your kindergartner with a few of these items to practice learning at home first. (Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Alphabet Activity Book and Gaobei Pencil Grip for Children)

4. Wait for a Supply List Before Making Big Purchases

I know that the kindergartners in my school district don’t use backpacks. Kids carry open-topped buckets to hold their over-sized paperwork. So I won’t be making a backpack purchase for my kindergartner this year.

That’s my son on the left with his LL Bean backpack in 3rd grade. He’s still using it in 8th grade!

However if you do need a backpack, I highly recommend L.L.Bean. I bought my eldest son his backpack from L.L.Bean when he entered 3rd grade. He’s starting 8th grade this year…with the same backpack! And it’s still in great condition (no wear, no tears and the zippers work perfectly).

LL Bean Backpack (same one I bought my son 5 years ago!)

Before you run out and stock up on pencils and crayons, wait for a supply list from your child’s teacher. Or consider buying a few small items to have at home to get your child in the “back to school mood”.


5. Teach and Practice Basic Manners at Home

“Please” and “Thank You” goes a long way. So does sharing, friendship and being a good friend. Practice with gentle reminders at home. A few good books can help to reinforce what you’re teaching. (365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette and Say Please, Little Owlet)

   

6. Pick Out a Special First Day Outfit

My kids love having something special to wear on the first day of school. And I always shop Gymboree because the quality and pricing is fantastic. The clothes are durable and so cute too (perfect for picture day!)

At prices like these, you can easily stock up for the entire first month of school! (PS: These are all images of clothing that I’ve recently purchased for my own kids!)

If you’ve never ordered before, here’s a special link that will get you 25% OFF Gymboree with your first order!

Make the First Day Special

Now that you’ve taken care of preparing your kindergartner for the first day of school, here are a few more ideas to help make the first day really special!

7. Plan a Fun First Day Breakfast

Put away the cold cereal for the first day and give the kids something fun and filling! A Mickey waffle would surely put a smile on their face for back-to-school. And Amazon even sells Golden Malted waffle mix, the same kind used in the Disney parks! (Disney Classic Mickey Waffle Maker and Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour)

8. The Obligatory First Day of School Photo

I love the idea of taking first day of school photos in the same place each year, just to compare growth from year to year. I try to pose my kids against the cute white fence at my mom’s house each year. From left to right, this is my son at kindergarten, first, third, fourth and fifth grade.

      

Another sweet memory is capturing your kindergartner exploring their classroom for the first time. I grabbed this shot when my eldest son sat down to look at picture books in his new class.

9. Write Down First Day Thoughts in a School Memory Book

You’ll look back fondly on these sweet memories! Having a dedicated school memory book keeps cute memories, photos and special awards and photos in one spot. My 13 year old son has the book mentioned here. I love looking back at it on the first day of school each year, remembering that adorable kid with missing front teeth! (School Years: A Family Keepsake of School Memories)


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


These practical back-to-school preparation tips will help ease your kinder kid into the first day of kindergarten.

Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Back to school shopping. Kids get so excited about the new stuff. And parents everywhere cringe and worry about the cost! With four kids to clothe (ages 16 months to 13 years), I know the stress of shopping for kid’s clothes. But I’ve gathered up some great ideas and hacks along the way that help me stick to my budget. Check out my 7 budget tips and back to school clothing hacks.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

Back to School Clothing

#1: Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Seriously, your child doesn’t need an entirely new wardrobe unless they grew 5″ over summer and have nothing to wear except pajamas. Pick and choose the pieces that are must-have.

#2: Give the kids a choice. Let them have some input on what they’d like to wear. This really helps minimize stressful mornings when anxiety about school kicks in. Getting dressed and feeling awkward has a lot to do with that stress.

#3: Aim for comfort. However you don’t have to sacrifice cute! I’ve been purchasing from Gymboree for 13 years. I love the coordinating lines, how easy the clothing washes up and of course, how adorable my kids look in them.

Keep reading for my back to school clothing hacks and budgeting tips for shopping!

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

1. Give Them No Reason to Say, “I Have Nothing to Wear!”

Before you hear those words, go through the closets and dressers piece by piece. Have your child try things on to verify fit. Too small? Have a donation box handy. Not in season? Put it in a storage bin under the bed for later. Once you have cleared out the old, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to purchase.

Pre-Shopping Tip: There always seems to be that one piece of clothing that doesn’t match anything. My daughter had the cutest patterned pair of pants but she never wore them because she didn’t have a top that matched the colors. Decide whether you’ll let that piece go or try and find the coordinating item to wear with it.

2. Layer Summer over Winter

What’s in the closet that can continue to be worn, even in the chillier months? My daughter had the cutest chambray jumper dress from Gymboree that she wore all-year round. When weather was warm she wore the dress alone. When weather was cool, she wore it over a turtleneck and leggings.

For boys, lightweight button-up shirts can be layered over long pants and long sleeved tees.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Look in the closet and see what items can be layered during the winter. Keep that tip in mind when purchasing new items.

3. Prep the Night Before

To ease the morning-of-school stress, make it a habit to prep as much as possible the night before. This means getting backpack and homework organized and placing shoes (with socks!) by the front door.

I choose my outfit the day before and encourage my kids to do the same. This way they can decide what they want to wear with a little more time.  And they’re fresh and ready to get dressed in the morning!

Pre-Shopping Tip: Does your preschooler still struggle with getting himself dressed? If buttons and zippers are slowing him down, purchase easy, quick-on clothing styles like rib-neck tees and elastic waist pants.

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

4. Stock Up on Layering Pieces

Long sleeved tees and turtlenecks that can be worn under coordinating shirts or sweaters can really extend the wardrobe. Cardigans, fleece hoodies and pullover sweaters are nice to layer over tees or button-up shirts.

For girls, leggings are perfect for layering under skirts and dresses when the weather is cool. Consider capri length for fall, full length and fuzzy lined for winter.

Pre-Shopping Tip: In the case of layering tees, I like to choose classic colors that coordinate with many other items in the closet. Think navy blue, white and black for the best versatility.

Gymboree Long Sleeved Tee

5. Choose Practical Shoes That Go with Everything

Have only a few styles of shoes in colors that coordinate with many different outfits. I recommend altering days to allow shoes to dry and air-out inside (helping to eliminate odors).

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you’re trying to expedite the morning routine, choose easy-on styles like slip on shoes or Velcro instead of laces.

Gymboree Mesh Sneakers

6. Shop Out of Season

This is one of my tried and true budget shopping tips. Shop NOW for next year! When I see that clothes are up to 70% off at Gymboree, I jump on that sale! I’ll purchase items for my kids, knowing that I’ll be putting them away for another season.

I recently purchased shorts in a few sizes larger for my toddler to wear next summer. They were $5.59 (already a fantastic price!). But when I paired that with my Gymbucks redemption, the cost went down to $2.80 and you CAN’T beat that kind of bargain!

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you want to buy ahead but aren’t sure what size your child would be, consider the style first. Opt for elastic or drawstring waist shorts and pants,  or loose dresses instead of form-fitting or “skinny” styles.

7. Don’t Need Full Outfits? Just Add Accessories!

One of my favorite ways to jazz up an “old” outfit is by adding cool new accessories. A fun pair of tights, belt, purse, coordinating socks or a hair accessory adds just a bit of spark to an outfit on a budget.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Don’t forget the underwear! I have to remind my older kids to let me know when their underpants are getting too small so I can reorder new ones! We’ve always purchased Gymboree because the elastic holds up so well and the designs don’t fade.

 

 

Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolGoals #CollectiveBias

My 3 kids are excited to be headed back to school, are yours? They can’t wait to see their friends, start in a new grade and yes, even learn something new (Self-discipline runs high in those first few weeks of school and I try to take advantage of that!) Stocked with fresh school supplies, the kids are organized with assignments. They’re on top of their school paperwork and planning new projects. I’m on my game too, keeping a tidy calendar of events and going through the paperwork like a pro.

And then sometime in mid-October, energy wanes. Interest drops and sameness sets in. The school supplies aren’t so fresh anymore and motivation for school is POOF…gone! With three kids starting school in the fall, I’m looking for ways to keep my kids resolute on their school goals. Motivation leads to strong habits for a lifetime. And truly, that’s my ultimate goal as a mom: Raising independent people who can stick to their goals with minimal reminder from me.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation for School

I have one child starting kindergarten and two teens in their final year of junior high. Setting goals and having small reminders help my kids stay motivated year-round. I find that I’m more likely to accomplish my goals when I write them down. There’s just something about seeing those goals day after day in my own handwriting that helps me stick to it!

This year I’m helping my kids get set for success by having them write down their goals before school begins. I’m encouraging them to stretch beyond the basics and truly extend and reach farther than they have before.

Coming Up with #BackToSchoolGoals

Keeping motivation high year-round is a challenge and kids need frequent reminders. Rather than the nagging “Mom voice”, I’m letting my kids come up with their own school goals. This is something they can foster themselves, with their own words and objectives.

Here are a few motivation goals for school that my kids came up with:

  • Clean out backpack each night after school
  • Prepare clothes, backpack and lunch the night before
  • Get to bed no later than 9 pm
  • Read at least 30 minutes each night before bed
  • Speak up in class and try to answer questions (even if we don’t always have the right answer)
  • Wake up early enough to have time for breakfast and getting ready without rushing
  • Aim not to miss any days of school
  • Remember to bring home physical education clothes at the end of the week
  • Complete extra credit assignments if offered
  • Organize folder and paperwork each week
  • Greet teachers and peers and make new friends
  • Limit free time at home with tablets and video games

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Writing Down Motivation Goals for School

Since I know that writing down goals helps develop good habits for a lifetime, I’ve created a FREE PRINTABLE: Motivation Goals for School. Kids can fill in their school year goals. This motivational worksheet can be referred to all school year. Use this free printable with your kids to help them write down their own school goals.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

In anticipation of the school year, I stopped at Walmart and I picked up the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouches in a 50-pack. For some reason I always thought that a laminating machine would be really expensive, but it’s so reasonably priced (and now I can’t stop thinking about all the things in my house I want to laminate!) You can find these items in the back-to-school supplies section.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

I laminated my son’s school goals with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator. After he was done with the goal sheet we simply slide it into the Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouch. When the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator was warm and ready (a blue light indicator goes on), we slid the pouch in place and the machine did the rest!

We three-hole punched it and placed it where he’ll see it every day, in the front of his binder. This consistent reminder to my kids of their original goals is going to help them stay on track!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

More Motivation Reminders All Over the House

I have several motivational phrases in my home, including favorite Bible quotes. Seeing them daily and repeating them either in my head or out loud keeps me calm and centered. I like being surrounded by positive encouragements.

I created this trio of motivational quotes and printed them out. I’ve laminated them with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and will be tacking them on the walls of each of the kid’s rooms. With two of them in their final year of junior high, I want to fill them up with as much positive energy as I can before they start high school!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                      #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                           #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

FREE PRINTABLES: What Others Are Doing (orange), You Can If You Think You Can (blue)Motivation and Habits (green)

I frequently use Post-it® Notes around the house as motivational reminders. Seeing what I’ve written day after day really helps me soak in the affirmations. Strategically placed Post-it® notes with an uplifting message for the kids help keep them focused on their school goals.

I usually have my Post-it® Notes messages on the bathroom mirror. Consider placing motivation reminders where kids will see them frequently, like on a cereal box for the morning or inside their lunch box.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation Leads to Habit

Once kids are motivated, making something a regular habit will truly ingrain it into their routine. Since I was a child I’ve always taken a few minutes before bed to choose my clothes and prep for the next day. I have my kids do the same by getting outfits ready, putting their shoes and backpacks in the garage and we run through the next day’s calendar.

There are no last minute scrambles in the morning because we have a great habit of setting things up the night before. This daily preparation is now a habit that keeps me on track each day and sets up a calm and organized morning.

Another good habit is to keep binders and paperwork organized. Use of Post-it® Page Markers and Post-it® Flags Page Flags with crucial items tabbed saves time when trying to find assignments or important papers.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

What motivational goals are you setting up with your kids now in the hopes they will turn into habits? What #BackToSchoolGoals would you add to the list? Share with me in the comments!

Painted Rocks Project – How Rocks Get My Kids Active in Community

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

How can painted rocks make kids more active? And could painted rocks create a culture of kindness? My city started a painted rocks project that has everyone young and old getting out in the community to hide and find painted rocks of all styles and sizes. Find out more about how you can paint rocks or even start this project in your own area.

Painted Rocks Project #SanteeRocks

It started on a walk to the park. We found the painted rock on a park bench. One side of the rock had the word “DREAM”. The backside said, “Post a picture on #SanteeRocks FB page then rehide”.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Our first painted rock find!

The Santee Rocks Facebook page description states, “Santee Rocks began with the sole purpose of spreading joy, kindness, and a sense of community through creativity and was inspired by the Whidbey Island Rocks Facebook Group. The goal is to paint rocks and then hide them in various locations to bring joy to the finder”. 

 Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Getting Kids Active with Painted Rocks

Hardly a day goes by without my son requesting that we go on a walk to look for Santee Rocks. He knows exactly how many he’s found over the last few months (26).

And when my son does find a rock, he shows it proudly to anyone passing by before finding a perfect hiding spot. I’m seeing him be less shy and more conversational.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

This patriotic rock was found (along with a Susan B. Anthony coin) on the Fourth of July!

While my daughter isn’t as likely to chat it up she’s enjoys showing off her artistic side by painting rocks to hide. All the kids love to see the rocks that they’ve painted being shared on the Facebook page.

Painted Rocks of Your Own – Host a Painting Party!

Ready to paint your own rocks? Gather up a few inexpensive supplies and get creative! Use your inspiration from anywhere. We’ve seen some incredibly beautiful rocks on our Facebook page. And we’ve found some rocks that were probably painted by 2-year olds! Doesn’t matter. Each time my son finds a rock, he’s thrilled, no matter what it looks like.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!  Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

You’ll need rocks, of course. Smooth river stones can be purchased if you don’t have rocks in your yard to use. There were some issues in our community when people were taking rocks from in front of shops to use for painting. Don’t steal rocks! Use your own or buy them.


Collect a variety of acrylic paints and paintbrushes. Use big brushes for covering the entire rock with paint and thinner brushes for details. A paint palette is a mess-free place to hold and mix colors (or use a paper plate for quick clean up).


You’ll need a permanent marker, like a Sharpie to write instructions on the back. Sealant is a must otherwise your artwork will wash away if the rock gets wet. Extra items could include a painting smock and a table drop cloth.


Starting Your Own Painted Rocks Group

If you think that your own community would benefit from something fun like this painted rock project, consider starting it up in your own area. Start off by enlisting friends to create their own painted rocks to hide. Start a Facebook group and things should get rolling from there. Our community site has over 10K followers!

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Dad found this painted rock and brought it home for my son to hide the next day.

Basic Painted Rocks Rules – (adapted from #SanteeRocks Facebook group)

  • If you find a painted rock that you can’t bear to part with, please keep it. Replace it with one of your own creations.
  • Coat rocks with a sealer for longevity.
  • Do not decorate rocks with glue-on accessories. These decorations will eventually fall off and become litter and a hazard to wildlife.
  • Be sensitive to the environment, stay on all trails, and do not hunt in protected habitats.
  • Do not hide rocks inside businesses
  • We encourage you to take rocks to other towns, states or countries to hide and share. This is a kindness project, and kindness has no boundaries!

  


For more on activities and ways to beat summer boredom,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

How Kids Can Save Money for Disney (+ Disney DIY Tutorial!)

Saving money for a family vacation generally falls on parents who pitch in the big dollars, of course. But when it comes to nickels and dimes, there’s no reason that kids can’t jump on board too! Here are some ways that kids can save money for Disney so they’ll have spending cash for treats and souvenirs of their own. This quick Disney DIY bank tutorial will help them save their pennies!

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through this link helps support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

By Doing Extra Chores

I believe that kids should pitch in on housework on a regular basis but for those chore that go “above and beyond”, I’m not above a bit of extra monetary compensation. A few bucks here and there for extra chores can add up in a kid’s Disney bank.

With Good Behavior/Good Grades

This one works especially well with little guys! I keep a good behavior chart for my preschooler in the two weeks leading up to the trip. This allows him 14 days to earn a little spending money based on good attitude and helpfulness around the house. For big kids, you could also reward good grades on a special pay scale, with bonuses for all As!

By Selling Something

Coordinate a yard sale as a family where the kids can sell their outgrown toys and/or clothing and earn a few dollars. Or set up an old fashioned lemonade stand or bake sale, though this is often more work for grown-ups involved!

Receiving Gifts

One of my kids favorite ways to save money for Disney trips is by saving monetary gifts given for birthdays and Christmas. If someone is planning on purchasing a gift for your child and asks what she’d like to receive, recommend a Disney gift card!

By Collecting Change

And here’s the perfect place to store all that loose change! Follow this easy DIY for create your own Disney vacation bank.

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

You can customize the bank with whatever Disney-themed charms you like. This DIY only cost me about $7 to make. I used a half price coupon from the craft store for the most expensive item. Or you can purchase them inexpensively on Amazon.

I purchased my supplies at Hobby Lobby. Here are similar items available at Amazon:

Wide Mouth Glass Mason Jar with Metal Lid,

Glitter Alphabet Sticker Letters

Disney Button Embellishments, Mickey And Minnie Glitter

Wish Lucky Charms

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These peel and stick letters have a cute sparkle stud detail. You can customize your jar with whatever lettering you want (the hardest part of this entire project is getting the letters straight!)

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I found these inexpensive items including Mickey and Minnie buttons, metal “Wish” charms and sparkly dangles. Kids can loop the charms onto a length of narrow ribbon and tie it around the neck of the jar. There are enough charms in each package to make several banks, so they would really be a great gift for another Disney-loving family!

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!


Save Money on a DISNEY WORLD Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and Walt Disney World vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.


 

Kids Can Save Money for Disney! Read the money saving tips & check out the DIY Disney Bank Tutorial

For more ways to save money for your Disney vacation,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don’t Have to Nag)

FREE PRINTABLE - Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)

Preteen kids have a lot to keep track of. With the start of junior high, puberty and a changing body, they also have intense emotions they’re dealing with as well (seen Inside Out?) I have two preteens in the house (my almost 12-year old son and my 11-year old stepdaughter) so my husband and I have a lot to deal with keeping them on track!

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is have to run down a laundry list of items as your kids are going out the door. They don’t like the nagging and neither do I…however, I also don’t want my kid smelling like an onion after P.E. because they forgot deodorant! Streamlining their personal routine and making it more routine for them is the key, but sometimes they need help remembering.

FREE PRINTABLE -Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)

I created this quick, no-nagging-necessary free printable checklist for preteens. I have it in a plastic sleeve, posted in several places around the house so my preteens can handle their business privately on their own. This is all about creating good habits that your child will take with them through life. And about teaching them a routine so at some point these things will be second nature and they won’t have to refer to the checklist anymore. Parenting is about creating independent people (because you don’t want to be calling your college-age children to make sure they are using deodorant, right?)

Here’s my FREE PRINTABLE Preteen Daily Checklist.

FREE PRINTABLE -Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)


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Halloween on a Budget – Make Your Own Adorable Costumes (and Save a Ton!!)

Make Your Own Halloween Costumes

I’m a crafty girl so of course, I always make my kid’s Halloween costumes. But even if you don’t have a crafty bone in your body, I know you can make a costume this year (or at least vow not to spend an ungodly amount of money on a crummy costume at the store, okay?). Want to make your own Halloween costumes? I’ll show you my 100+ tips, tricks and ideas to make your own Halloween costumes.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps in a small financial way, thank you!

Tons of tips for making your own Halloween costumes, all on a budget!

Make a Halloween Costume Plan Early

A few months before Halloween I ask the kids to start thinking about what costume they want. Sometimes it takes them a few weeks to decide but this year they’ve been firm and have stuck with their original ideas. Two of the three have a Disney-theme, go figure! *wink*

I’m starting the Halloween planning a full 60 days in advance, which will give me plenty of time to make three kid’s costumes. I highly suggest starting early so you have plenty of time for planning and crafting and avoiding the night-before cram session (been there, done that!).

Some kids have a hard time deciding on a final theme so allow about a week of waffling before you tell them they have to nail it down. Once the planning process starts there is no changing of minds!

Dozen of Halloween Costume Ideas with Tips & Tricks on How to Make Your Own Costumes on a Budget

Draw Out a Basic Design

I draw a quick and simple design of the costume idea and present it to each child for approval. Make your drawing very simple and direct (don’t forget to show both front and back). Allow input from the kids about the design as they often come up with the most creative ideas!

I stress this…do not make them a costume as a surprise! This quite often will backfire. Kids want and need to approve what they wear. I believe that they should be involved in choosing their own theme. After all it’s the child that will be bringing the character to life! You want them to be happy and comfortable with what they are wearing (and not refusing to put it on!).

Dozen of Halloween Costume Ideas with Tips & Tricks on How to Make Your Own Costumes on a Budget

One of my favorite years was when my kids decided together that they wanted to be pirates. My son had a pair of glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas that became the base of the design. One child chose black and the other red as their main color scheme. I used the same skull and cross-bones design on the backs of their vests (drew out a image, traced it onto white fabric, cut it out and sewed it on).


The costumes had a similar look but each one unique with the choice of accessories. My son had a simple sash tied at his waist and a loose vest. For my daughter I made a tighter top (that laced on the sides) and a sash that laced with ribbon in front. I accented her outfit with inexpensive gold braid trim. These costumes look fantastic and I truly only spent about $15 total on the striped and black fabrics.

Argh! Brother and sister pirate Halloween costumes {Saving Up for Disney}

Know What You Have & Buy Only What You Need

As a seamstress, I have more than enough fabric and notions in my bins to costume a Broadway production! For this year’s costumes, I don’t think I’m going to have to purchase much of anything. But perhaps you’re starting from scratch? Save those fabric and craft store coupons now.

Figure out what fabrics you’d like to use for the costume (be practical about what will be easiest to work with and what washes up the best) and watch for sales. Dig through your odds and ends including buttons, ribbons and leftovers from previous craft projects. You might just find a diamond in the rough that will be the inspiration of your design!


Take a look at your closets and see what can be tweaked or reworked for a costume. In many cases I only have to make one main piece or an accessory to complete the look. The rest is straight from their everyday wear. I recommend Fabric.com online if you do need to purchase fabrics or supplies.

Like this adorable gnome. My son already had the corduroy pants so I just made a basic tunic (trimmed with white bias tape). Felt is so cheap and it was appropriately stiff so the hat stood up all on its own. I attached an elastic chin-strap and a strip of fur for the beard. This costume cost less than $10. It took only a few hours to create and he looked absolutely precious!

Dozen of Halloween Costume Ideas with Tips & Tricks on How to Make Your Own Costumes on a Budget

Keep An Open Mind & Creativity Flowing

I haven’t purchased a new pattern since 2007 because I use and reuse the classic styles that I already own. Don’t get hung up with needing a specific “princess” costume pattern. And you don’t have to exactly match the design on the cover.

Don’t let yourself get distracted by a dull or outdated design on the packaging. Simply changing up the fabrics and adding trims can make that style a true gem.

Scour the sale pattern bins and look for classics that can be manipulated for your design. A basic tunic pattern and elastic waist pants and skirts are the basis for countless costume designs.

Halloween spider costume on the cheap {Saving Up for Disney}

What do you have around the house that can be recycled for a costume? My son came up with the idea of “Hollywood Super Star Spider” when he was five. He knew he wanted a cane and a top hat. My dad made the cane with leftover PVC piping. I made the top hat from the thin cardboard of a cereal box, hot glue and leftover fabric strips.

I spent very little on the actual fabric for the costume and batting to fill in the spider arms. Mono-filament (fishing line) strung the arms together. He wore his own black pants with the tunic. My son was over the moon when his design and character came to life!


Tons of tips for making your own Halloween costumes, all on a budget!

A homemade cupcake, Sorcerer Mickey and a Marine

Less is More (Thinking Cheap)

Specialty fabrics can be very expensive so try to use them minimally instead of in excess. They generally have a greater impact when used strategically, like in the bodice of a dress instead of in the entire skirt.

For my son’s spider costume I used only a small amount of the priciest fabric (the sheer, sparkly red spiderweb design), choosing to place it only on the front of the tunic. Same goes for fancy trims: Instead of edging the entire hem of a skirt, use a pricey trim only around the neckline or sleeves.


When I want to create drama without the expense on a costume, I pull out my fabric paints. A little glittery fabric paint can go a long way to making your look more professional! When my nephew got a hold of this Spiderman costume it had already been through two previous Halloweens over the course of 8 years but the paint pen marker that I’d used to draw the web was still holding up!

Spiderman costume on the cheap {Saving Up for Disney}

For the cost of a few plastic buttons and some stretchy knit fabric, you can have your own Mickey in the house! Check out my DIY Mickey Mouse costume tutorial.

mickeycostume

Face Paint Can Be a Costume

Keep your outfit simple and go with dramatic face paint. This is an awesome way to dress up as a wild animal.


Turn That “OOPS” Into “I MEANT TO DO THAT!”

See my daughter twirling in her lovely fairy butterfly dress? When I tried it on her for the first time it completely fell off her shoulders! I needed a fix and I needed one fast! I improvised by sewing strips on the dress inside the neckline. This created a unique bejeweled collar that became the signature look of the design. When something doesn’t work it’s time to pull out all the creative stops and look at it a different way.

Halloween butterfly fairy costume {Saving Up for Disney}

Outside the Box

My son is nothing if not imaginative. He came to me with the idea of being a bush for Halloween when he was 6 years old. His idea was that he wanted to hide in corners and then jump out and scare people who thought he was just part of the landscaping!

After pricing the cost of fake leaves we had a discussion and I convinced him to be a tree. The cost of completely covering his entire body with leaves was going to be prohibitive. But one strand of fake greenery was acceptable. He could still be in disguise and if he squatted down, he’d still look like a bush. He went for it!

We used an old shirt and I hot glued on the leaves. A bucket hat received an overlay of green fabric, more leaves and even a tiny nest and bird that we had in our craft box! He wore brown pants for the “trunk” and everyone loved his creative costume. And he got the biggest kick out of jumping out at people along the trick-or-treating trail.

Halloween costume - A tree with a bird's nest {Saving Up for Disney}

Give Yourself Enough Time (and Know Where to Cut Corners)

This zebra jacket took more time than you’d ever know! Seriously, I worked for hours and hours cutting out strips and sewing them in place. I made the headpiece with a firm piece of latch-hook plastic. I looped the black and white yarn through it and then sewed the plastic in place onto the hood.

But by the time I got to the bottoms I’d run out of time! I’d planned on making black pants and adding the stripes but instead had to resort to tweaking an old pair of soccer shorts with a few stripes sewn on and having him wear a pair of his sister’s black leggings. It all worked out in the end, he loved the costume and he still wears this jacket!

Zebra costume made from a hoodie {Saving Up for Disney}

My point is to judge how long you’re taking on a particular project and know whether it’s worth your time to keep going or to amend the project to suit your time and needs. In the case of my daughter’s fairy butterfly dress, the skirt fabric was two silky layers and I didn’t have the time to hem it in the traditional way.  I serged the edge in a contrasting thread so it was still finished off. The pretty threads added a colorful charm to the design.

Very Hungry Caterpillar baby costume {Saving Up for Disney}

For the baby’s first Halloween, I knew he’d been spending the night in his stroller, probably asleep. I didn’t need to make him anything fancy, instead opting for fabrics I already had in a theme he loved from his favorite book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A simple elastic tube of green fabric trimmed with colorful ribbons up the spine and a quickly appliqued knit cap was enough for his first Halloween.

Costume From the Closet

Rather than full out costume, see what you can use from your own closet to create. I made a DIY Vanellope Von Schweetz for my daughter using items that were from her closet or easily purchased and that could be re-worn as clothing. Hooded sweatshirts are so easily manipulated into a costume with a few inexpensive trims.

 

If you really don’t want to spend much (or any) money, take a look at what you already own that can be finagled into a costume. My little guy loved the Wizard of Oz a few years ago (and his sister was already dressing as Dorothy) so I easily put together his scarecrow costume with a plaid shirt, overalls, a bucket hat and some raffia. Adorable…and free!

Baby scarecrow costume with items in the closet - totally free! {Saving Up for Disney}

Alright, Okay…So, You’re Going With Store Bought

Remember when I said I always make my kids own costumes. I lied. One year I bought my son a Jack Sparrow Pirates of the Caribbean costume. In all honesty, I had been listing a hand painted pirate costume in my Etsy shop that year and I’d made a half-dozen of them and just didn’t have enough time for my own kid’s costume!


So we splurged and went with store-bought. It was a nice quality Disney store costume and he “made it his own” by pairing it with my brother’s vintage pirate hat. It was a nice enough costume that it was handed down to my nephew the following year and then I sold it the next year on Ebay!

Halloween costumes on the cheap {Saving Up for Disney}

My Hollywood SuperStar Spider and his cousin, wearing the store bought Jack Sparrow costume the second year.


If you do go with store bought, keep a few things in mind:

Quality vs. Price.

  • Is the fabric so cheaply transparent that kids will have to wear a second layer underneath for modesty?
  • How many times after Halloween night will the costume be wearable?
  • Could it be resold either on Ebay or to a friend afterwards? There are some really precious costumes out there. But is it really worth it to you to spend $80 for a one-day outfit?

Dozen of Halloween Costume Ideas with Tips & Tricks on How to Make Your Own Costumes on a Budget

Shop the Thrift or Resale Shops First

It’s what everyone did with last year’s costumes: They donated them and they are yours for the picking! I found my daughter’s Wizard of Oz Dorothy costume at the thrift store last year for a whopping $4! The ruby slippers were $10 and she wore them for every Christmas event and school dance that year so I say that is one bargain Halloween costume!


Start with Accessories Before Buying the Head-to-Toe Costume

Can you get away with buying a store-bought accessory and using items from your closet for the rest? I present to you, Indiana Jones! An accessories set included the Indiana Jones Child’s Hat and Whip Set and Indiana Jones Satchel (which was of course, his trick-or-treat bag).

It cost me about $15 total and I pulled a khaki shirt and brown pants from his closet to complete the look. He added the smolder on his own!

Dozen of Halloween Costume Ideas with Tips & Tricks on How to Make Your Own Costumes on a Budget

Is it Comfortable?

  • Itchy fabric? Too tight elastic? So many store-bought costumes are sealed up inside their packages and can’t be tried on first.
  • Some of the retailers have very strict return policies in regards to Halloween costumes so make sure that you are able to try it on completely before making the purchase.
  • If your child isn’t comfortable wearing the costume in the store, they will be miserable trick-or-treating and who wants those kind of memories?

Dozen of Halloween Costume Ideas with Tips & Tricks on How to Make Your Own Costumes on a Budget

Will This Costume Ever Be Worn Again?

Will your kids wear their costumes to play dress-up through out the year? Invest in nice quality pieces that won’t fall apart in the dress-up bin. The hours of entertainment they provide are worth it. Every item that I’ve made has either been handed down to another child or has been worn again for dress-up and pretend play. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey hat that I made for Halloween became the theme of my son’s birthday so he wore the hat for the party too!

Tons of tips for making your own Halloween costumes, all on a budget!

On a final note, I think Halloween costumes are a wonderful way of expressing creativity and style. Not only just for the person making the costume. The child who chooses the theme and helps design makes the costume come to life with their own personality.

This final shot of my nephew and son, rocking their individual looks perfectly reflects that. Choose a costume that transforms you and makes your character come to life!

Streamline the Morning Routine (What Keeps Me Sane and On-time During the School Year)

I have the morning routine down pat! It wasn’t always that way…in fact, I have a decades-old history of oversleeping, scrambling out the door wearing two different shoes, hitting the snooze alarm 13 times and all those other not-so-fun ways to meet the sunrise! Just ask my mom, the poor lady who had the privilege of waking me throughout elementary school…boy, was I a groggy mess!

12 Ways to Streamline the Morning Routine

Live and learn and I’m here to tell you that budgeting your time is just as important as budgeting your money when it comes to household happiness. Nobody feels very excited about their day when it starts in a frantic rush. Read on for my tips to streamline your morning routine and keep yourself sane in the process!

Ask me how many times my kids have been late to school and I will proudly tell you NEVER!

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Mornings don’t start in the morning, they start the night before!

Prepare as much as you can the day and night before. This way mornings are started off in a calm manner and there isn’t any wild rushing around in search of things or trying to get too much done in a limited amount of time. Here are 7 ways that you can streamline the morning routine by prepping the night before.

2. No Wardrobe Malfunctions

Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I’ve planned my wardrobe the evening before. My son has no issues with getting up, pulling out a shirt and shorts and easy-peasy, he’s dressed. But us girls, we take a bit more time on our style, I guess! I work with my daughter to plan outfits for the week and stack them inside a closet organizer along with socks, underpants and hair accessories. All she has to do in the morning is grab the next outfit and get ready.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

A hanging organizer for outfits.

Wardrobe planning has always been something I take pride in. Every night I decide what I’m going to wear and set it aside in my closet. I pull out my jewelry and set it on my dresser so in the morning I don’t even second guess myself, I just grab and go. Have your kids help choose their outfits on Sunday night and gather all parts (socks, underpants, accessories) so they have them together.


3. A Place for Everything

No mad dash looking for anything in the morning because it will have already been put there the night before. Teach your kids to prep the night before and get them in a lifelong good habit of organization and timeliness!

Backpacks should be cleared out every afternoon with all paperwork, library books and homework returned to the backpack in the evening so it’s ready to grab in the morning. Shoes should be sitting together where you can step into them going out the door. Hairbrush, detangling spray and elastics/bows should be together (we keep ours in a bin under the bathroom sink) so it’s easy to style in the morning.

Jackets are on a hook next to the backpacks. Bedrooms are tidied up and toys and books are put away before bedtime. We have no morning scrambles for anything because it was already set in the right place the night before!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

4. Lunches Made in Bunches

I buy in bulk and portion items out into plastic snack bags. I store cold snacks in a bin in the fridge (like cheese cubes, melon slices or carrot sticks). Dry snacks are in a bin in the cupboard (like chips and crackers, granola bars or a cookie).

The only thing I make the morning-of is the sandwich. Everything else has already been prepped so in the morning all I do is grab a few pre-portioned bags to make a well-rounded meal.


5. Set the Stage for Sleep

As I’ve instructed my husband, a tickle-fest is not going to get our kindergartner in the mood for sleep! Shortly after dinner, we start the routine of quiet playtime, reading in bed, a light snack and teeth brushing before turning off the lights. A warm bath or shower right before bed can help kids relax.

We turn off the television long before bedtime to keep stimulus at bay. The pace is slow and calm and our kids know what to expect, even the toddler (don’t try to skip story time!). Keeping your routine the same each night can also help sleep come quickly and have them sleeping all night in their own beds.

6. A Reasonable Bedtime

According to the National Sleep Foundation website, elementary school aged kids need about 10-11 hours of sleep each night. My kids wake up at 6 am Monday through Friday so that means they should be going to bed no later than 8:00 pm.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

With a toddler, kindergartner and junior high kids in our house, we have everyone in bed around the same time each night. Bedtime is between 7:45 to 8:15 pm and no later than 9 pm on the weekends. We aim for consistency on the bedtime and the kids show the consistency in their behavior and attitudes. They hop right out of bed in the morning, aren’t groggy in the afternoons and are sleepy enough in the evenings that they put themselves to bed on time each night.

7. Put Yourself to Bed at a Decent Time, Too!

I’m the worst offender of this in my family. After everyone else is in bed and I finally find time to myself I find myself puttering around doing nothing, reading too many Facebook posts and starting projects that really shouldn’t be started at 10:36 pm. And then I’m kicking myself in the morning when I don’t want to get up!

I’ve pledged to start getting to bed at a decent time, one that gives me more than 5 measly hours of sleep each night. Even after just a week of this I’m feeling better, waking easily and am not “hitting the wall” at 2 o’clock each day any more.

8. A Restful Room is Conducive to Sleep 

A slightly cool room, comfy bedding, white noise (like a fan), darkness, and a soothing scent (like lavender) can all invite refreshing sleep. On occasion (especially during periods of stress), my kids have enjoyed listening to a relaxing story tape or soft music with the lights out.

I’ve trained my kids not to require a nightlight because if the lights are on, they are more likely to have their eyes open. If it’s very dark in the room then what’s the point of having your eyes open, there is nothing to look at…close your eyes and go to sleep!


Good Morning Sunshine!

After a peaceful evening the night before and a good night’s rest, your kids will be in a better position to have a happy morning routine. Here are my 4 tips for nailing the morning routine!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

9. Awakening to an Alarm Clock 

If you have kids who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, get them used to waking with an alarm clock. Looking back, if I’d used an alarm clock as a kid instead of waking to my mom coming in to my room (over and over!) I would have gotten up the first time instead of the tenth. The alarm clock only goes off once (unless you use the Snooze button, but I’ve never taught my kids what that is, they assume that the clock goes off once and that’s it…tricky me!).

If you don’t get up you’re going to be late, easy as that. If MOM is waking you, as a kid you know that she’ll keep coming back in as many times as it takes and eventually the kids and mom are trained in the wrong direction!

If you are a habitual snoozer, try to break yourself out of the habit. It’s not good quality sleep anyway. Get up right away and either open the window to let in the morning sunlight or turn on the light in the room to get your body adjusted. Make your bed right away and you won’t be tempted to crawl back in!


10. The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast

We never leave the house without breakfast and I’m surprised when my kids say that so many of their friends don’t eat breakfast in the morning. I can’t imagine trying to function for so many hours until lunch on an empty stomach.

I get up early enough to prepare a quick and balanced breakfast for me and the kids. This could be scrambled eggs, toast and a slice of melon. Fruit smoothies with juice, milk or soy milk are a hit. Homemade oatmeal with diced apples and cinnamon is often requested. Or if we are more rushed, a bowl of cereal and a banana.

I like a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit, agave and a sprinkling of granola. I often take mine “to-go” and eat it when I get to work. Sometimes the night before I will make banana or apple nut muffins to include with breakfast.

On weekends when I have time to make pancakes or waffles, I make extras and freeze them to heat up for breakfasts during the week. Add some whipped cream and a few blueberries and voila, a fancy breakfast on a Thursday!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

11. Final Brushing Call: Teeth, Hair and Out the Door!

I have the kids take turns in the bathroom brushing teeth and hair because mayhem and delays tend to ensue when they attempt to share the sink! I usually give my daughter’s hair a quick style and maybe pop in a bow. We keep a box under the sink that holds hair elastics, a brush and detangling spray so everything is in one place. If a fancier hair style is requested (like for picture day), we allow extra time by getting up earlier.

We keep shoes and backpacks on a shelf in the garage so the kids grab their lunches off the counter on their way out and within a few minutes we’re in the car and on our way.

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

12. It’s Early…Know Your Limits

Don’t try and cram too many chores in the morning routine. I keep it simple by only requesting that beds be made before we leave the house. If complicated hair styles or made-to-order breakfasts are making your kids miss the bus, save them for the weekends when you have more time.

I’ve also been known to set the timer for my daughter when she dilly-dallies over her cereal bowl…when it dings she knows she has one minute to wrap things up and move on to the next task. If you keep finding yourself running late, set the alarm clock for fifteen minutes earlier to allow a little extra time…there’s no harm in arriving early.

Only you know where to draw the line so set the limits for your kids and it will set them up for morning success!

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.