New Years Eve Interview with the Kids

New Years Time is upon us! There are many wonderful traditions to start with your kids during this time of year. One of my favorites is interviewing each kid and keeping it as a record. It will be awesome to go back and compare this year with next year. Some of the questions may change as they grow but mostly stay the same to look upon their growth as people. New Years interview with the kids is fast going to be a favorite tradition. They can be fun to keep to your self and savor, or share them with Grandparents and family.

I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Please read my full Disclosure for more information.
New Years Interview with the Kiddos

New Years Interview with The Kids

Think about when asking and recording kid questions (if they are not big enough to do so on their own) to ask them separately. Little ones have a tendency to be easily swayed by sibling answers! I can’t wait to try these out on my kiddos this year. New Years Eve interviews with a 3 and 6 year old will make for some good memories.

What is your favorite: 

  1. Color?
  2. Food?
  3. Drink?
  4. Toy?
  5. Thing to do?
  6. Place to go?
  7. Book?
  8. Show or movie?

9. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

10. What do you want to be when you grow up?

11. What are you going to do different this year than last?

12. Who are your friends? 

13. If I gave you $100 dollars what would you do with it?

14. What are you afraid of?

15. What is one wish for the new year?

16. I think it is very funny when?

Be sure to be on the lookout for my upcoming New Years Traditions with Kids post! 

And if you haven’t already checked it out go read 4 Mindful and Resolution Worthy Mom Goals. 

New Year Interview with the Kiddos

Click on either image to get the Printable version of the list!

Printable New Years Interview with the Kiddos



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4 Mindful and Resolution Worthy New Year Mom Goals

4 Mindful and Resolution Worthy New Year Mom Goals

New Year’s Resolutions are upon us. It is human nature to try to better ourselves. Pursuit of happiness is something we all have right to and a yearning for.  Setting goals or resolutions is one of the ways most people strive for that next level. Read on for 4 mindful and resolution worthy New Year Mom goals. Followed by a FREE printable Monthly Resolution Journal!!!

Us moms always have mom goals. Sometimes they don’t involve being a mom though. Either way, if it be fitness, parenting, personal or professional they are important even if only to ourselves. 

This post does contain affiliate links. See disclosure if you have any questions.

 

I am going to challenge you this year when creating your new resolutions to be mindful and not mind full. 

As you set your resolutions this year try to think more about how you will enjoy the road along the way and less about enjoying the end result. Of course you want those end goals but just like cheat day of a diet, enjoying the ride towards the goal will go a long way in helping you reach it!

Here are 4 Awesome Mom Goals for you to aim at this year!

  1.  Treat Yo Self
  2.  Always Try Your Best
  3.  Love your Babies
  4.  Practice Teamwork with your Partner

1. Treat Yo Self

Treat Yo Self- Mom Goals

Being a parent, partner and person can mean a lot of sacrifice and struggle. Again I am going to refer to that cheat day analogy. It is so mush easier to be successful in the pursuit of happiness if we take time along the way to enjoy. I’m not saying to ignore the struggle or push off the important bits that are hard, just remember to take a break and smell the roses every once in a while. 

There are so may options to consider when you are looking to treat yourself. Each person may need or want something different. Some examples could be running and exercise, mani and pedi, hot bath and a good book, vacation and dinner out, new video game to binge out with, working in your garden, wine, …. And the list could go on and on!

The challenge here is to choose your treat as something that truly brings you happiness in the now and can keep you on track for your future goal as well. 

2. Always Try Your Best 

This may seem like an odd open ended resolution but that makes it no less important. If you are working towards these goals and you know you tried your best it is easier to enjoy the building moments. 

It is most important to remember that you are not always going to be operating at peak performance every day and therefore your best will change in each moment. Some days, weeks or even months  at a time we struggle with things like sickness, sadness or worry.

Remember that circumstances matter. A marathon runner knows things will be more difficult in the rain. A mom knows things will change if she has the kids at home and a broken foot to heal.

To read more about how I dealt with a broke foot this past summer check it out here. 

Be mindful of the moment and always try your best. 

3. Love your Babies 

Some of you may be thinking “I already do this!” and I know you do! Me too! What I really mean is to be mindful about enjoying them and yourself while you are loving them.

Choose moments everyday to savor, record or to just be in!! Be mindful of how much you have the phone in your hand. Mindful of events and extra curricular activities you choose to participate in. Mindful of the company you keep, the language you use and the example you set. 

Here is a link to another post I wrote about the Benefits of Connecting with your kids. 

You want them to truly feel the love and not just you checking off that box in your to do list. 

4. Practicing Teamwork with your Partner

Working with your significant other to achieve joint family goals. Going after happiness with that person mindfully. A part of enjoying and loving life is having people around you to share it with. When those people are happy and loved it makes everything that much better. 

Remember we are focusing on enjoying the journey and not just the end goal here. Date nights, quality time, intentional listening and mindful responses can create good communication and a loving happy team!

Working together with another person is a great time to pull on each others strengths. It is awesome to have help when you try your best and are not 100 percent. 

These are great resolutions. I hope the inspire you to enjoy the journey as you are working to the amazing end goals and Mom resolutions. 

4 Mindful and Resolution Worthy New Year Mom Goals

I have created a downloadable monthly resolution tracking journal. Please use it this year to practice mindfulness while in pursuit of happiness. 

24 Acts of Christmas Kindness- Kid Challenge

24 Acts of Christmas Kindness

This post does contain Affiliate Links. See Disclosure page for details. 

24 Acts of Christmas Kindness- Kid Challenge

 

December is officially here. My kids are like most and very excited for the visit by Santa. They get treated well each year by the guy in the big red suit! Goodies from Mom, Dad, and doting family easily add to the spoils. It is so easy for them to get swept up in the “I want” attitude.

 

 

The Incident

Just the other morning we went to breakfast with Santa. They got pancakes shaped like Christmas trees and visited with Santa. We got a photo, candy canes AND Santa even gave them each a new super soft and fluffy stuffed animal! Very unexpected and special early treat! We were at a church and all funds collected for this event go into helping the community. I wanted top get some baked goods on my way out, giving a little more and feeding my cookie addiction. Both the kids decided they really wanted bags of candy instead and I let them. The money still goes to the church even if I didn’t get my cookies.

Next thing I know Harry saw they had some little packaged toys for girls or boys. It was only a little car or trinket from the dollar tree. He had to have one. I don’t know about you but we are on a tight Christmas budget around here. He already got the awesome animal from Santa. That “I want” mentality came into play. I said no and he lost it. Super embarrassing right?! And in front of Santa!!!!! We moved on out of there. I got to thinking about how we need to move away from the “I want” and more towards the “I want to give and help.”

If I could go back in time and not be as flustered by his reaction I might have let him buy the toy bag if he was willing to give it to a child in need. I really want them to learn it feels good to help and spread kindness! Just like that church was doing by hosting an inexpensive breakfast with Santa and giving out stuffed animals.

 

 

How can I teach that giving is just as fulfilling as getting and it isn’t just about things. Its about actions.

 

I find myself looking for ways to teach them more about the joy they can get from giving to others. As a kid they don’t have funds to go buy gifts for people. Another learning experience is learning to be creative and that gifts aren’t always about things but actions! I have created a calendar for the month of December with a different act of “kid achievable” kindness listed each day. I hope some of them will help instill some habits of kindness and sharing that will translate to every time of year and not just during the holidays.

Giving is not just about things its about actions too.

The Calendar or Daily Notes

 

It will be a challenge for them, as well as me. I have to remember to encourage them each day and in some instances teach or assist them how to accomplish said acts. Right now I just have created the printable calendar to put on the fridge and share as a family. When they are older and can read I am going to put notes in their advent calendar and we will discuss how the act for the day went and how to achieve the next act.

 

The Calendar I created has an idea for each day of the month! The challenge is for 24. So there are a few extra bonus ideas included. With our busy lives its good to have some flexibility. I tried to make all the ideas as kid friendly as possible. My house has a 6 and a 3 year old and I am sure they will be up for completing or at the very least helping me complete all of these.

 

So here they are. 31 Ideas for Acts of Kindness Challenge During the Christmas Season

 

  1. Read a book to a sibling.

  2. Donate baby hats to a hospital.Stretchy Baby Hats

  3. Leave a tennis ball at a dog park.

  4. Let someone go a head of you in line.

  5. Donate a book to the library.

  6. Give away outgrown toys and clothes.

  7. Send a letter to a soldier.

  8. Pick up litter.

  9. Give a stranger a compliment.

  10. Plant a tree.Lemon tree seedling

  11. Leave money on a vending machine.

  12. Coffee and donuts for teachers.

  13. Tape a quarter to a parking meter.

  14. Be a friend to someone new at school.

  15. Smile at everyone you see.

  16. Hide a happy rock.Happy Rock

  17. Candy cane the cars in a parking lot.

  18. Visit a lonely neighbor.

  19. Do a favor without asking for anything in return.

  20. Rake leaves or shovel snow.

  21. Make cookies for a neighbor.

  22. Create a picture of a letter for a grandparent.

  23. Leave a balloon at a friends door with a kind message.

  24. Give a hug to someone you love.

  25. Hold an elevator for someone.

  26. Offer to help carry groceries.

  27. Help to make dinner.

  28. Make a craft for someone you love.Golf Tee Angels

  29. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

  30. Share a toy with a friend.

  31. Leave a jar of wishing pennies at a fountain.

 

 

If you are interested in brainstorming some of you own ideas here are some topics to get you started. Kindness to family, kindness to community, and kindness to our world. It would be a cool idea to write these acts on a chain and take one off to do each day until Christmas.

 

Acts of Christmas Kindness Challenge for Kids

Click on the Calendar for a link to a Printable Version!

 

 

Please if you haven’t already go read my other Christmas posts! Lots of great tradition ideas.

DIY Felt Nativity Scene and Advent Calendar

25 Storybooks of Christmas

Ditch the Elf on the Shelf! Alternative Ideas for Christmas Countdown and “Santa is Watching” Traditions

 


Some cool books to read with your kids about Kindness:

   

See Affiliate Disclosure for any questions. 

DIY Felt Nativity Scene and Advent Calendar

Affiliate Links Included please see disclosure if you need details. 

Felt Nativity Scene
Hi Tribe!

I know I have been promising you a tutorial on this awesome DIY felt Nativity scene I created. Don’t forget there are enough pieces to fill an advent calendar!

The previous blogs promising this next Christmas tradition were Ditch the Elf on the Shelf and 25 Storybooks of Christmas

It started because I wanted to create a reusable advent calendar for my kiddos. I needed to do it as cheaply as possible. I already had the mini numbered stockings that a neighbor had gifted to my siblings and I as children. You can find one almost like it on Amazon here.

Advent Calendar Stockings
Next, I wanted something fun, toddler appropriate, and keeping with the reason for the season. I had a ton of felt left over from a previous craft project. So, I set to work and drew some simple templates. ——>Get those here!

Once they were drawn, I cut them out and pinned them to the felt to cut the material into desired shapes. <–Affiliate Amazon link! Click the felt picture and get an assortment of colors with 2 day shipping!!

I used embroidery floss to stitch the different color pieces together to create the figures with their faces, sashes and to add details like mouth and eyes. If you are not into sewing, gluing the shapes will work just as well. A sharpie or tube of puff fabric paint can be used to add detail.

This is a pretty simple project and can be done one evening while watching your favorite show or even during nap time.

My kids love to pull each piece and create the scene of Jesus’ birth story. They take turns pulling one out each day. Please share with me if you try to make it on you own! As they get older, I am going to start including notes in each stocking with an act of kindness. Extra practice being kind during the holiday season will spread during anytime of the year.

Subscribe for a follow up blog with a Calendar of Christmas Kindness Challenges for Kids. Free Printable list will be included!



25 Storybooks of Christmas

25 Storybooks of Christmas

This post contains affiliate links! Please click the book photo if you are interested in buying any. See my Affiliate Disclaimer for more details. 

25 Storybooks of Christmas

As I mentioned in the previous post Ditch the Elf on the Shelf, Alternative Christmas Countdowns and “Santa is Watching” Traditions we love the Christmas storybook tradition in my house. It fits right in with our daily routine of reading before bedtime. I have one big wrapping session a few days before the first of December and then the kids love having a book to unwrap each night leading up to Christmas. I even add numbers so I am the one in control of which book is opened when!

I compiled this list with all the Christmas stories in our house. I pack them away with the decorations each year. When its time for December first I make sure they are wrapped and under the tree for the kiddos to open one each night. As you may notice I have more that 25 here. That is because some are little baby board books, we are not ready to part with, so some wrap jobs have more than one book inside. I am going to do my best to include Amazon links for all the books if you click on their photo, as well as a little review of each. Some of these are OLD and/or I found in a thrift shop, so we shall see if they can even still be purchased. If there is not a photo link for the book that means Amazon didn’t have it.

1. Advent Storybook 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas

– by Antonie Schneider, illustrated by Maja Duskova
This book was given to us by my Aunt. Her kiddos received it from an Aunt and it has been a part of their tradition ever since. I am excited to start reading it each night with my kids this year! The book has a one page story for each night. It is our first book to open this year and we will be reading from this each night along with the new book. You could just use this for the story tradition if you don’t want to pack away 25 or more books each year.

 

2. The Christmas Story

– by Jane Werner, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (Little Golden Book)
A retelling of Jesus’ birth but this time in Little Golden Book form.

3. Christmas in the Barn

– by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Diane Goode
Here we have a very cute and simple version of Jesus’ birth. Great illustrations!!!

4. What Star is This?

– by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Alison Jay
This book takes a more scientific approach to that same retelling but focuses more on the star in the story.

5. The Little Drummer Boy

– illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
My second favorite Christmas song. I always sing-read it with the kids.

6. This is the Star

– by Joyce Dunbar and Gary Blythe
This book is a retelling of Jesus’ birth but in a poem-like format with words repeating. It can be compared to the 12 days of Christmas almost.

7. Silent Night

– verse by Joseph Mohr, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
My all-time favorite Christmas song. I always sing read this one too. This book has the most beautiful illustrations.

8. Polar Express

– by Chris Van Allsburg

A classic and a must have in any Christmas library! A little simpler than the Tom Hanks movie recreation. 

9. The Night Before Christmas

– by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Douglas Gorsline

Another classic here. There are so many beautiful versions of this little story/poem. I remember reading this most as a kid. 

10. The 12 Days of Christmas

– by Laurel Long and Dial Books (Search and Find)

Everyone knows this poem or song. We have 2 different versions of this book. One is a beautifully illustrated search and find. Each of the previous lines are hidden in the next illustration.

11. The 12 Days of Christmas

– illustrated by Dori Santos (Puzzle Book)
A more condensed version with 4 puzzles included in the pages. I could not find this one on Amazon.

12. The Littlest Elf

– by Brandi Douchtery, illustrated by Kirsten Richards
Cute little scholastic book club book.

13. The Bear Santa Claus Forgot

– by Diana Kimpton, illustrated by Anna Kiernan
This book is long so don’t double up on this night. It reminds me of the Corduroy stories but with Santa.

14. Christmas Cats

– by Jean Mazollo, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
Just super cute cat fun. We all know a cat lover who would enjoy this story of cats preparing for Christmas.

15. When Santa Was a Kid

– by Janice Leotti Bachem, illustrated by Anthony Lewis
This story talks about Santa as a Kid and I used it when I taught first grade. The kids can practice sequencing the story, main idea, main characters, setting, and really any comprehension skill you can think of. I like that they see him as a kid who makes mistakes just like they do.

16. Five Busy Elves

– by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Julia Woolf
A good counting story and it’s from the scholastic book club.

17. Merry Christmas Splat

– by Rob Scolton
This is another cute cat Christmas story. He writes his Christmas list to Santa and has a hard time doing it honestly. He also tries to stay awake to see Santa but we know that never works for tired kids or cats. 

18. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa

– by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This story is another classic. It also showcases writing Santa a wish list and shopping for mom and dad.

19. Christmas Lift the Flap Shadow Book

– by Bethany Perkins and Hermoni Edwards with Priddy Books
Found this book at the thrift shop. It is a fun surprise to look through and guess the festive Christmas clues under the flaps.

20. A Christmas Carol

– retold by Gaby Goldslack, illustrated by Caroline Pedler
Totally a Christmas classic. This story can be very long, and my younger kiddo doesn’t have the patience to sit and listen to it yet. It gets put with one of the board books.

21. It’s Christmas David!

– by David Shannon (My son’s favorite)

This was my son’s favorite author for a little while. I think it was because of the illustrations of him running down the street with no pants. We have all the David books and this one is cute.

22. The Polar Bear Who Saved Christmas

– by Fiona Boon and Clare Fennell
Cute little story about a polar bear standing in for a reindeer on Christmas Eve.

23. Mooseltoe

– by Marge Palatine, illustrated by Henry Cole
Silly story about a papa moose who is way into the season and all decorating traditions, but he forgets the tree! In the end they use his giant mustache and he stands in for the tree.

24. Christmastime is Here

– Fisher- Price Little People Book with over 50 liftable flaps
My kids LOVE this one. I always put it near the end because they want to reread it every night and it’s a lot. You could also use it as and advent calendar- it has one on the last page.

25. Merry Christmas Santa

– by Joanne Barkan, illustrated by Barbara Lanza
This one again is a little long but features Santa getting a Christmas gift from the elves. The gift gets switched with a little girl’s gift and one of the elves saves the day and switches it before she notices.

26. Jingle Bells

– by Lathleen N. Daly, illustrated by JP Miller (Little Golden Book)
This is a creative take on the song Jingle Bells.

27. The Pokey Little Puppy’s First Christmas

– by Justine Korman, illustrated by Jean Chandler (Little Golden Book)
This story is a holiday version of one of my favorite childhood stories. There is counting and cute puppies.

28+29. That’s not my snowman and That’s not my reindeer

– Usborne Books (Linked you to my favorite Usborne Dealer!)
These are two of our board books. They have pages to touch and feel different textures. I almost handed them down to my nephew this year, but I know my 3-year-old will still love them!That's Not My ReindeerThat's Not My Snowman

30. Merry Sparkling Christmas

– by Elizabeth Spurr, illustrated by Colleen Madden
This is another board book. Very short with cute illustrations. I am quite sure this was my sons very first Christmas story of his own. Probably will keep this one forever even after it goes out of rotation.

31. The M+M’s Christmas Gift Book

– by Barbie McGrath and Peggy Tagel
Finally, this one is another board book and fun to read with a bag of M+M’s. The pages have little spaces to arrange the candy as you are reading.Please enjoy this big book list I have created for you. The library is a great place to check out books as well! With an extension you should be able to keep them for the month. I also recommend searching for Christmas books in thrift shops. And of course you can always follow my links here!

25 Storybooks of Christmas 25 Storybooks of Christmas (1)

Please remember to subscribe and I can send you the wonderful printable list of these storybooks. You will also be receiving a monthly email with all the blogs and free downloads each month.



Ditch the Elf on the Shelf! Alternative Ideas for Christmas Countdown and ”Santa’s Watching” Traditions

Christmas Countdown Traditions Besides the Elf on the Shelf

Ditch the Elf on the Shelf

This post does contain some affiliate links. I may or may not receive an incentive if you use my links but there is no added charge to you!

Happy Holiday Season Everyone! Time to break out all the Christmas decorations and that Elf on the Shelf. NOT! I refuse to let that dude in my house. Don’t get me wrong, the concept is fun, but it creeps me out having some THING in my house watching. We already have enough of that going on with today’s technology. I do like watching some of y’all get creative with it, but the tradition is just not for my house. I’m more into the set and forget type tradition. I put the work in once and then have minimal to do the rest of the month. I especially like when they are traditions that already fit into our daily routine like reading before bedtime.

Here I will bring together some ideas if you are like me. You don’t want that elf responsibility.

1. Christmas Countdowns

Everyone loves a good Christmas countdown. It’s hard for kiddos to wait for the big exciting day. Doing a countdown can help with patience or at the very least they don’t have to come to you to ask “Is it Christmas yet?” There are plenty of crafts to make featuring countdowns. I’m am going to link one of my fellow bloggers and add one I made just for you to print!!

Snipping Santa's Beard
Snipping Santa’s Beard

Christmas Tree Countdown

Christmas Tree Countdown- FREE Download

2. Advent Calendars

They sell awesome pre-filled ones. I vividly remember having one like this a few times as a kid. Loved opening the little cardboard doors for a chocolate or sticker treat! Some even just had a cute little hidden picture inside.

If you follow one of these links to Amazon you can find an almost endless supply of all kinds of Advent calendars from magnetic, to paper, and more!!

I much prefer one that I can reuse and change each year. There are several options/ideas you could get or make to fill yourself. Each usually features numbers for each day. Hanging stockings, shelves, envelopes, pockets are all good options. You can fill them with candy, stickers, and pencils for treats. Another idea I can’t wait to try when my kiddos get older is notes featuring an act of kindness to achieve each day. My final idea here is using pictures or felt figures to create a Christmas scene or more specifically a Nativity scene.
I will be creating another blog post with a FREE template of all my nativity pieces! There are enough to pull one out of the advent calendar each night to add to the scene. Please subscribe to get access to this awesomeness coming soon!!

Felt Nativity Scene Stocking Advent Calendar

3. Special Routines

Another idea is saving 25 special ornaments to add one to the tree each day of the month. We also love having a new Christmas book to read each night. I wrap and number them for my kiddos and they take turns unwrapping one each night before bedtime stories. One of our books even has all 24 stories in one (I included the Amazon link to the exact book below). It makes things super simple with less wrapping and books to keep track of.

Books before wrapping

 

Now for those of you who really like the idea of the Elf watching behavior and reporting back to Santa. Here are some ideas.

1. I just tell my kids I call or text Santa after they are in bed to tell him how they are behaving. There is even a phone number with a Santa hotline set up if you need proof!

2. Writing letters is a very old school or traditional way of keeping in touch with Santa. It is also a great way to see how honest your children prove to be about their own actions.

3. A Santa cam is a good set and forget method. Use a Christmas bulb from the tree and craft it to make it look like a camera lens (when the kids aren’t around). Then just hang back on the tree and tell the kids that’s how Santa keeps a watch on them. (Here photo with an Esty link! So cute!!!)

Santa Cam

I hope you like all these ideas, if you have one you love to do with your family please share it with us in the comments! Or if your family loves that Elf, please share some of the silly things he does when visiting!

Also, PLEASE subscribe to my blog if you have any interest in some follow up Christmas traditions. I will only be emailing once a month to link you up with my newest posts and freebie downloads.

Coming Soon:
Christmas Story Book List
-DIY Felt Nativity Scene for Your Advent Calendar
-25 Acts of Christmas Kindness Challenge



7 Thanksgiving Day Traditions to Share with Your Kids

7 Thanksgiving Traditions

We love Thanksgiving in our house. It is a day about being at home, being thankful and eating. Here are some traditions I love to do with my family. Maybe you would like to share some with yours! 

1.Watch the big New York parade on TV

Parade Excitement

I always enjoyed this tradition with my mom. Excitement was big for the giant balloons, marching bands and of course at the end, SANTA! There is usually singing and dancing happening in the living room as the musical guests and musical numbers are performed. I like hearing the history of certain balloons and floats. My children like to look for familiar cartoon characters as they watch.

2. Make a big fancy breakfast

Turkey Pancakes

This is mostly because dinner cooking is in full swing during lunch, so that meal is tiny and/or forgotten. This year for breakfast, we are making turkey pancakes with apple slice feathers and scrambled eggs on the side. I will update with a photo once we have made our creations.

 

 

3. Create place holders and a center piece to decorate the table

Turkey Place Holders

My family eats dinner at the table every night, but this is special. Usually there are extra guests and we get to eat in the dining room instead of the kitchen. It is fun to decorate! We made our turkey place holders already. Using TP rolls cut in half, some markers, feathers, and tape. We drew on the turkey faces (you could use googly eyes instead if you have them). I gave my almost 6-year-old the guest list and he wrote each name on the other side. Finally, we taped the bottom of the feathers to the inside-back of the tube. As far as the place-mats go, I am going to print my tree ring template from my previous post (go read it here). I am going to add a little thankful scavenger hunt to each one for my guests to write down and be fully mindful of the reason we are feasting!

4. Make a Meal Menu

I make one of these for myself when shopping, but Thanksgiving Day we need the list so nothing is forgotten as we are cooking! No fun if you miss someone’s favorite dish or forget to take the cranberry sauce out of the oven. A fun way to keep the kids entertained is to talk to them about the list and have them illustrate and write one themselves. They will even like to check things off as they are completed just as much as the cook! I will update with photos of what my kiddos create this year.

 

 

5. Helping Cook

Pie Crust Making with a Kid

This can be a scary idea for many people, but this is one of the joys of the day. Especially for people who really love to cook and entertain like my hubby. How else can you share and impart this onto your children unless you involve them! Some ideas for involving the kids easily are: 1. Picking only one dish to be theirs to help with like, “Harry, you are sous chef of mashed potatoes!”, or; 2. Picking only one job they will help with, like stirring, mashing, or adding in measured out ingredients.

6. Admire and add to the Thankful Tree

Thankful tree looking good

Hopefully you have already read about my November Family Thankful Project. On Thanksgiving we add another leaf and sometimes go back to read some of the ones we have written throughout the month. I usually make my guests add a leaf to our tree as well.

7. Writing to each guest about why we are thankful for them

Writing or drawing to express our gratitude for our guests is like a step-up from the thankful tree. Taking the time to share those grateful thoughts is amazingly powerful for both parties. Who doesn’t like hearing nice things about themselves? I love the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from thanking another. Speaking of which, THANK YOU for reading this and following my journey on here. I hope to bring you much more in the future.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Mini Crock Pot Ad

Click photo to follow link. Full disclosure, I got mine from the thrift shop for 5 bucks!!! Check there if you want to be thrifty!!!

November Family Thankful Project

Happy Holiday Season Everyone!

Fall Trees and Sunshine

I love all the fall and winter holidays. They always seem to be filled with happy traditions. Sometimes November and Thanksgiving seem to be over looked for Christmas. I work hard in my home to make sure this doesn’t happen. Decorations, food and projects stay focused on fall, family and being grateful for everything in our lives.

We use this month as a time to practice mindful daily gratitude as a family. Writing and sharing gratitude out loud has an amazing effect on a person’s happiness level. It also is a very helpful tool when doing a self-evaluation or reflection. It is a super important practice I want to teach my children. And I see the positive effect for hubby when encouraging him to participate as well.

The benefits of practicing gratitude regularly are great. All year I actually write something I am thankful for every day. Some of the many benefits of gratitude include better all around heath, enhanced empathy and reduced aggression, better sleep and better self esteem(According to Amy Morin and her article I found on Forbes.)

In another article it tells how much happier practicing gratitude can make you, especially when you do it daily in a journal. ( Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. wrote for Physcology Today) According to her the up side of practicing gratitude is there no matter what, but to gain a true heath benefit you should make it a daily habit.

 

Family Thankful Tree

Each night during the month of November we have a topic to guide us. We write and share something for which we are thankful. We record all of these ideas on a fall leaf and tape them to a tree cut out I have posted on the wall near our dinner table. It is fun to see the tree grow more full with our thankful leaves as each day passes.
In future years when both the kids are big enough to write on their own, we are going to try out this same plan but with tree rings. When a tree is cut down, inside there are many circles from small to large. In between each ring we will write our daily thankful note. Then I’ll laminate them and save them to look back on.

30 Thankful Prompts

 

 

30 Thankful Prompts for November (2)<—- Here is the printable list of Thankful Prompts.

Thankful Tree Ring Printable<——- Here is the link to the tree rings. 

Leaf Template Printable<——– Here is a link to some leaf templates. 

 

 Here is what the list and tree ring printable look like after printed. Be sure to select the paper size you want and print it to fit in the margins.Printable Posters

 

There are also several Thanksgiving themed thankful books I love to read with my kids during this month. Here are the links if you want to check the out. I am an affiliate with Amazon, if you use the links to purchase I will get a bonus. We really do love all these books so if you are looking for some good Thanksgiving themed ones please check these out!

6 Ways to Promote “Free Range” Kids in 2018

6 Ways to Create "Free-Range" Kids in 2018Free Range Kids means giving them the freedoms of earlier generations.

For example, walking down to a friend’s house, to a park, or even just out in the yard to play unaccompanied and on their own. The challenge comes in doing this without going crazy with worry. That worry is caused by social media pressures and many parent peers or other adults not accepting the free-range idea.

It can be possible to have our children living this way but you can’t just kick them out and expect it all to be fine. Just like any stage of parenthood we have to train them to live and play the free-range way.

I am writing this in hopes to help others and support this concept (or at least a variation of it). I have been struggling with how to give my kids these freedoms while meeting societal norms. Also, my kiddos are only 3 and 5, so we are in the training phase.

I really like the freedoms and development that comes with free-range, but in today’s world it’s not the top parenting choice. I am not into letting my children completely run free in the streets, but rather creating a level of freedom that will encourage them to be independent.

Here are the Basics:

1. Set Positive, Reasonable, and Age Appropriate Boundaries
2. Encourage Outside Play
3. Seek Out Like-minded Parents for your Village
4. Foster Independence
5. Teach Stranger Danger
6. Model Healthy Habits

All of these 6 ideas are intertwined and build on each other. Some of the topics even heavily overlap in my discussion and descriptions. I encourage you to add more ideas about this topic in my comments. I’m always looking for new ideas and points of view.

First things first, set positive, reasonable and age appropriate boundaries.

Set Age Appropriate Positive Boundaries

Kids need boundaries. They test them regularly but they are a safety net for children. Boundaries are a part of making them feel and be safe inside and outside of your home. Boundaries should grow with the age and experience of your child. Examples of boundaries inside your home can include screen time, eating only in the kitchen, bedtimes, etc. Examples of outside boundaries can include staying in the yard to play, asking for permission to walk to a neighbor’s house, wearing protective gear when biking, etc. Any rule you have set can be thought of as a boundary. The main goal is to provide a safe environment, but boundaries should also be used to help foster independence and grow your child into a good human. This is where things like teaching manners can be defined as a boundary as well.

There is such a thing as too many boundaries. This is where I really like the idea of a more free-range parenting style. They should have just enough to keep them safe but still be able to push limits to do self-learning and discovery. I do like the idea of having my kids in a bubble. We all hate when our children get hurt physically or mentally, but avoiding pain is just not realistic. I want them to learn how to be in this world, and being in a bubble will not support that plan! There are plenty of moments where I cringe, close my eyes, or even walk away because they are trying something with a possibility of being hurt.

Kids are supersizing in their abilities to accomplish things and even to decide on the risk.  I know my son functions far more confidently when I am not around. At Kindergarten orientation, he had to hold my hand the whole time. But on the first day, he walked confidently on the bus and through the halls of his new school.  Another example is this tricycle we have here at our house. One day this summer he took it to the top of our driveway (which is decently steep) and let it drift quickly down. He knew to put his feet down to stop and even to ride to the grass to help him stop. I was nervous but just let it happen. He LOVED it and got loads of energy running back up to ride again.

Letting kids go outside to play on their own, without direct supervision, has been shown to have many benefits for kids. Concepts like confidence, problem solving, decision making and even empathy, etc. My kiddos are not quite old enough for me to let them outside for long without supervision. Especially my 3-year-old. Her rational capabilities are still in heavy development, but my 5-year-old has more experience. He knows the boundaries I have set when I am outside with them, and MOST of the time he is ready and willing to follow them when I am not around. For example, stay out of the stream, stay in the yard, don’t climb certain trees, etc. We also practice walking to neighbors’ houses and to the bus stop. He is learning the boundaries of how to do that safely with my guidance so that with a little more age he can be free to go on his own.

Next is Encouraging Outside Play.

Outside Play

Nature seems endless, exciting, and full of adventure – especially for kids. Helping foster an enjoyment of the outdoors totally and completely can push kiddos into the free-range play style. It is better than any video game, inside toy, and sometimes even better than a book! Exploring the outdoors is still one of my favorite things to do. Sunlight and fresh air can be some strong medicine. Ways to model and teach your children a love of being outside can include family hikes, camping, gardening together, outside sports, etc.

We all want our children to be healthy. One of the key factors to this is physical fitness. The outdoors welcomes running, jumping, and movement of all kinds. Playing outside gives the freedom and space to do all those things. Another benefit can be learning how to deal with certain discomforts (e.g. heat in summer, cold in winter) and how to dress appropriately. Bugs and allergies are other things all humans have to cope with at some time or another. More outside time means more learning about how to deal with those pests.

My 5-year-old loves figuring things out and asking questions. He is a science lover if I ever met one. Most kids his age fit that description. It’s important to me to put him out in the world to keep that curiosity growing. He asked me the last night if time travel is possible. I told him not right now but maybe one day. And maybe one day it will be him who helps figure it out!

Here are some of my favorite links to studies about the benefits of playing outside.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/cool-schools-2018/when-canyons-are-classrooms-and-trees-teach-lessons

https://www.familycircle.com/teen/parenting/discipline/benefits-of-free-range-parenting/

Seeking out like minded parents and other adults for your village.

Seek a Like-Minded Village

When other children are around your kiddos and they have close to the same boundaries and rules as your own children it is magical! With family, friends and neighbors around to help guide your children, it can be easier to give into the free-range freedoms. Things like walking down to a neighbor’s house, sleeping over at a friend’s home, playing outside, or even walking to a park unattended are all things that will be easier with other supportive adults around. I’m talking specifically of peer parents we can in-trust our children to and neighbors and family who are trusting of how you are training your children to be respectful and aware of the world around them.

This also means your kiddos friends will be like-minded as well. We humans need others around us to make life so much more fulfilling. Obviously, we want to be kind to all and impart that to our children. However, teaching them how to choose those people whom we become close to can help guide their later life experiences when we are giving in to those freedoms we want them to have. As a parent of a teen, I would imagine it would be easier to trust them on outings if you are comfortable with their friends whom they will be going with. Sow the seeds early of how to choose to be around people who will be good for you!

I know I love when I have friends whom I feel comfortable setting boundaries for their children as well as them setting them for my own. Teamwork! It takes a village.

Fostering independence in your children.

Encourage Independence

This starts by having them ask for what they want as they begin talking, and moves to them going for what they want with their actions – on their own. I have already touched on this topic in the other categories, but it’s so important that it needs to be mentioned in a stand alone category. Independence and confidence come from setting those boundaries and they are all key to the free-range kids.

As a parent, if you know your children are independent and confident enough to take care of themselves while following the necessary boundaries, it is much easier to give them more freedoms.  I know I find it hard to be patient in many of the learning stages – potty training, tying shoes, buckling themselves in the car, cutting their own food, etc. These are all steps to becoming independent. Slowing down and giving our children the time and support to try these things on their own will give them, and us parents, confidence!

My story earlier about my son riding down the driveway on the trike was under the “outside play” category, but it also fits here. He independently came up with the idea of where to ride the trike. I feel like it gives him more confidence to be creative with his outside play. He can find ways inside his boundaries to play on his own when given the chance.

Here are some links about the positives of independent play:

https://modernalternativemama.com/2017/01/20/independent-play-necessary-childs-health/

Stranger Danger

Stranger Danger

It’s wonderful to teach kids how to be friendly, caring, and respectful. If we are sending them out on their own, it is also good to address the idea that there are some people out there who do not fit this mold. As a parent, it is not our favorite topic but one that is fore-front in our brains very regularly. We have to be ready to talk with our kids about the uncomfortable situations that could arise so they will be more ready to confront them.

I don’t know about you, but placing my trust in others with my children is a big deal. All too often, we hear stories of abuse at the hands of people we trust. The world is a scary place. Here is were seeking the like minded village is linked to teaching stranger danger. Kids have to learn their own boundaries and have the skills to recognize and react when someone else crosses them.

Stranger Danger Points

1. Giving children strategies for what to do if they need an adult and you, the parents, are not around. Who is the right kind of person to approach for help?

2. Teaching them how to respectfully and safely get out of an uncomfortable situation that does not coincide with their boundaries. If they find themselves in a situation with a person or place that is not safe, how can they get out?

3. Seeking out friends that fit. Who do they enjoy spending most of their time with? Who has similar boundaries to their own?

4. Learning to notice when a situation could be unsafe or boundary crossing. Are they being aware of the environment around them (people and place)?

These are all concepts that touch on the darker side of letting our children out into the free-range world. I will be writing another article soon detailing these 4 ideas and examples on how to teach them.

Lastly is modeling healthy habits

Model Healthy Habits

For children to follow the boundaries, grow in confidence, and to become independent, they need their parents to show them the way. Model how to speak respectfully to others, take care of personal hygiene, eat well, enjoy the outdoors and physical activities, and show how to make and take care of friends and family. Showing our kids how we master these skills and teaching how to accomplish them is the biggest way we can boost our confidence as well as their own to be out in the world. To be free-range!

6 Ways the Create "Free-range" Kids in 2018

Here are some books about this topic if you are looking for more reading! Please follow my awesome affiliate links. 

A Parents #1 Wish for their Children

Every parent has wishes for their children! What would you pick if you could only share one? What is the most important?

A Parents #1 Wish for their Children

Recently one of my cousins did a poll on Facebook for a class he is taking. One of the questions he asked of parents was “Name the ONE thing you wish for your child/children in life.” My immediate answer was happiness. I still stand by my answer but considering some recent worldly events it has gained an even deeper meaning for me.

All the political and human drama going on currently involving our borders and immigration laws has me feeling sad. Everyone has an opinion about it, but really no matter what side of the “Wall” you associate with, we can all agree that children are our future. Many are very passionate about what is going on but don’t have any ideas as to how to help change the situation.

I myself am mostly apathetic when it comes to politics. I do prefer to stay in my own world and focus on my own family. This does not mean however, that I do not think about worldly problems or that I live in an “ignorance is bliss” state of mind. I wish all these people crossing our border and working to give that one big wish to their children felt they had a better way to go about it. My goal here is NOT to create a debate about who is at fault or even discuss why certain policies are good or bad. I am here to remind everyone of our common goals and wishes for our kiddos!!!

Here is a list of the top 18 ONE wishes my cousins poll question generated. All are great wishes. Some may even be synonyms for others or even encompass others.

  1. Happiness
  2. Inner Peace
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Self Sufficiency
  5. Independence
  6. Employment
  7. Good Health
  8. Stress Free
  9. Faith in God
  10. Love for Self and Others
  11. Wisdom
  12. Kindness
  13. Belonging
  14. Humility (Humbleness)
  15. Positivitity
  16. Confidence
  17. Serenity
  18. Know Thyself

My answer is still Happiness!

I will explain why. Wishing for happiness for my kiddos means, as a mother, I will be working to teach them to find and keep said happiness. I can help guide them to choose what brings them happiness as well. I can show them the joy of being kind, helping others, working hard, loving, family, etc. This list could continue endlessly. We as parents need to focus on teaching our kiddos to seek happiness not only for themselves, but also for others. Leading by example is the most important.

I am aware there are many people and kiddos out in this world that do not have this privilege, but I alone could never hope to change this. I can only hope that by sharing acts of kindness and love within my small reach, happiness will spread to others. At the very least it will spread to my children and have the ripple effect. All these wonderful 18 wishes can and will aid in creating future adults whom we will want in charge of this world in the future. We as parents just need to try our hardest to guide and encourage our kiddos down the right path.

 

My favorite song I sing to my kids Have it All by Jason Mraz can be listened to and downloaded on Amazon Music (Affiliate Ad Alert) (You don’t even have to do unlimited for this song if you have Prime already!) or you can buy:

 

Please, if you enjoyed reading this add a comment sharing and explaining your one biggest wish for your kiddos.

 

I would love to make the list longer. Testimonies on a time when you taught a great lesson providing your child with a stepping stone towards your wish for them! COMMENT Positivitity!

A Parents #1 Wish for Their Kids

Another blog I have written about the benefits of connecting with your kids has some great ideas on building those stepping stones.

http://savorthemomlife.com/the-benefits-of-connecting-with-your-kids/