Archive | PARENTING

A LAIDBACK + KID FRIENDLY SUMMER CHORE + ACTIVITY CHART YOU CAN DOWNLOAD (PRINTABLE PDF)

I love when summer arrives and our daily routine gets turned upside down, breakfast get’s eaten anytime before noon and our laundry room (but really any flat surface) get’s piled with wet towels and swimsuits. That being said, there is a fine line between easy summer living and a total free-for-all. One allows for spontaneous trips to the pool or park and the other has me pulling my hair out while the kids complain of boredom and have death grips on their iPads. One of the things that helps keep the latter at bay is to add a dose of structure with a healthy helping of wiggle room. More important than anything though is being really clear with expectations and then sticking to them!

I’ve spent the last several weeks working on a chart that makes it easy to do both and I’m excited to share it with you today as a printable download (below!)! You can of course make it your own (the last few pages of the PDF are blank!) but I’ll explain a little more how we use it. Here’s to finding your summer sweet spot between buzz-kill mom and frazzled mom!

THE EVERYDAY STUFF, like getting ready, making their bed and contributing to keeping our home somewhat tidy-ish (with an assigned cleaning zone) allows them to earn an allowance but also frees them up to play with friends or get a craft or activity out to play with! So if at 10am a friend comes to the door, they want to build a fort or they have sea shells that they’re dying to paint, when they ask permission I’ll say, “Are you dressed and brushed? Did you do your chore? Is your bed made?” This is where checking their work is important (but not always convenient). They’re pretty good about it now, but I used to have to give an extra chore to any kid that fudges the truth :) Luckily they’re quick learners.

Regarding the cleaning zones; At the beginning of each week the kids pick an area to be in charge of. This is something I stole from a friend that homeschools and have been doing it for about a year now and I love it. So simple and keeps negotiations to one day a week, lol. Our current zones (it can change with the seasons!) are: organize shoes, sweep downstairs, tidy playroom, empty dishwasher, tidy bathrooms and tidy back yard and water plants. Again, super simple (and maybe a little wimpy compared to what others have their kids do!) but it works for us and is also very helpful because there’s very little micromanaging.

Poppy’s still a little young to complete most of those chores without help so she usually teams up with one of her sibs to help them or she can pick a zone and I’ll help her.

EARNING PRIVILEGES, which for our kids is screen time and friend time (I mentioned above). Again, this will be different for different ages and situations, but for us the kids have to read for 20 mins before they can have screen time starting at 7pm. If for some reason the kids read more than 20 mins one day, they can mark it off on their chart but that doesn’t carry over for screen time the next day — instead they can read more or do one of the other 20 minute activities. What usually ends up happening is that 7:30pm rolls around and they haven’t read yet so they get ready for bed and then cozy up to read and before you know it, it’s almost 9 and they’re sleepy so they either go to bed or get 30-ish mins to play before we tuck them in, lol. Which is the best case scenario if you ask me! Also before you think I’m running a tight ship, I’m wayyyy more lenient with screen time in the mornings while I work, especially for the early risers! Wigggggle room is my friend!!!

*SIDE-NOTE: 20 mins might seem like a lot to some and nothing to others but for us it works — it’s easy to enforce, no one complains and even Poppy can look at books that long if no ones available to read to her. However, if reading is a battle, start with 5 mins! Or cross it off the list… the intention is always to help and not discourage and there really is no wrong way to “summer”.

MAKE IT FUN, with stamps or stickers and of course a reward at the end of the week! I mentioned above that they have to read and or code (we love the Bitsbox subscription!), play the piano or do some watercoloring before they have screen time in the evening (usually not before 7pm) but giving them stamps or stickers to load up their chart keeps them motivated and engaged (small wins, FTW!) while they continue the week and work towards earning an allowance. Then for their reward we chose to do an allowance with the potential for bonus money because it works for all of our different age groups and is the easiest to keep track of. In the past we’ve also given prizes or planned outings (like ice cream dates!) as a reward.

*PARENTING HACK: Do yourself a solid and get 100 $1 bills in an envelope from the bank. It’s the only way we’ve been able to make this work because we don’t ever have cash hanging out in our wallets. Now that the kids are earning money they’re able to spend it on the ice cream truck or concession stands at games, but before we started this little system we used our envelope of $1 for stuff like that or fro-yo/popcorn days at school. It’s a true lifesaver!

(Did you see our stories last night of the kids coding with bitsbox? So much silly fun! We just got their second box so they’ve been trying out all the new project cards.)

ACTIVITIES THAT KEEP THEIR MINDS SHARP + HAPPY, I have honestly never been successful or consistent at this over summer break and I always regret it when back to school season arrives. This year instead of trying workbooks and learning/quizzing web sites I opted for more hands on activities and it’s been working so well! For coding we enjoy Bitsbox. For piano we’ve been using Jamzone (thank you to Phillip for sharing via DM!). And as another option I signed the kids up for my friend’s online watercolor class, too! All have been so fun and entertaining!

Last but not least is practicing gratitude! Depending on our schedule the kids can write their thoughts down in a journal or they can verbally tell me 5 specific things and then earn a stamp on their chart. Again, so simple but also effective! We did this last summer with one of the kids who had struggled with anxiety during the school year and by the end of summer they were a new person. Highly recommend!

EARNING BONUSES, isn’t something we’ve done much of in the past but because this is the first summer in a few years that we haven’t had a regular babysitter I figured it would be a good way to use the “leftover” budget :) If they do all their reading and fill up the other activities (coding and piano or watercolor) to the “yay” they can earn an extra dollar or two by doing more chores or activities. It’s again, another way for them to contribute and help with family life, but I also love how it can transfer over to adult life, too!

Ok you guys, that was a lot of info but if I missed anything please comment and I’ll be sure to respond.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE CHORE CHART WORKSHEET, PDF

OR THIS VERSION (YAY!)

And be sure to scroll to the last few pages if you want a blank one. Also, I’m happy to make minor edits if there’s enough need for it so leave a comment with your requests.

xo, Rae

16

25 SIMPLE DATES TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS

One of the most pivotal moments in my parenting career happened when I came to the realization that my job as a mom was less about keeping all my ducks in a row and more about developing relationships with said ducks :) If that makes sense. Setting aside a little bit of one on one time (or even one on two) with our kids, away from the hustle and bustle of family life to fill their love tanks and just enjoy each other’s company has been a really good way to do just that.

Over the weekend Tilly and I planned a park date but then had to adjust our plan after Poppy came down with a stomach bug and fever. So we ended up grabbing treats from Starbuck’s and then posing for silly pictures on the couch. Even though we didn’t leave the house for long, the 30 minutes of time spent getting a special treat and being silly together did the trick!

Sharing 25 more simple date ideas to do with your minis, below!

25 REALLY SIMPLE KID DATE IDEAS

  • Head to the park to PLAYYYYYY. Bring a soccer ball, have a cartwheel contest, lay on a blanket and make pictures out of clouds, etc.
  • Plan something together! A special meal, end of the year party, outdoor movie night, or weekend getaway. Head to your favorite coffee or smoothie shop with your trusty notebook and pinterest account. You’ll not only be teaching life skills but also have another outlet for quality time!
  • Go for a bike or scooter ride (just make sure you hop on a scooter or bike too)
  • Kid’s choice! just be sure to set up some guidelines so things don’t get too extra. pretty sure 75% of my kids would choose a trip to Target with a $5 budget, lol.
  • Attend a High school sporting event
  • Take a class together
  • Visit a climbing wall (or a YMCA date if you have a membership)
  • Volunteer together
  • Play catch
  • Fly a kite
  • Plan a random act of kindness to do together 
  • Go putt-putt
  • Go to the batting cages (ask if they have a tee for younger kids!)
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Go for a run
  • Get slurpees
  • Go to the library
  • Have a picnic and make up a secret handshake
  • Visit a you-pick farm
  • Pick wild flowers to do a craft with later
  • Pick out each others outfits and then go split an appetizer
  • Visit a farmer’s market
  • Learn a new skill together like making balloon animals
  • Leave notes on the sidewalk for people using sidewalk chalk
  • Play a board-game

Another parenting tidbit I’ve learned over the years is to focus on THE BIG 3 touch, listen and look — when with the kids and it definitely helps keep those bonds and connections strong! What I find so ironic (or not so much) is that those are all things that came naturally to me during their first year of my kids’ life. They’re also things that can easily take a backseat as they get older and more independent. A good reminder that eventhough our kids’ needs evolve, they stay the same in many ways. Also another good reason to put the phone down and away whenever possible!

Tell me she’s not the cutest little date there ever was!?

I don’t want to imply that it’s more important to do this with certain kids over others and of course there will always be seasons where planning dates just isn’t in the cards — — but for the kids that challenge me the most, I would say spending one on one time has saved me from hitting burnout status and made it easier to fall in love with who they are instead of just focusing on their current behavior challenges.

Also a little footnote, sometimes all it takes is letting one kid stay up past bedtime or help you make dinner or even help you pick out your outfit (my dad used to wake me up in the mornings to help him pick out a tie for work and it is still one of my favorite memories!).

Here’s to building strong relationships — it’s something we all crave and were created for! Amen!

xo, Rae

5

MOTHER’S DAY + FAMILY VALUES

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! Still feeling extra grateful that these 5 made me a mama and for the crazy adventure and wild love that comes with motherhood. There is nothing like it.

Of course we all know it’s not all morning snuggles and dance parties. It’s exhausting and challenging and incredibly humbling to raise these kids. I’m thankful though that just as they’re growing and learning, so am I. My perspective has changed over the years which makes everything more enjoyable. My faith has been tested which has made me stronger. And my arsenal of tools and resources has grown, which has made a world of difference.

One of the most applicable tools we’ve used is creating a list of 5 Core Family Values. It’s given so much structure and purpose to how our family operates and makes decision making so much easier too (hooray!). So I thought I would share with you what ours are in case it’s helpful! Keep in mind, this is less a way of measuring how good we are at each value and more a way to keep us focused on what’s most important.

Sharing our list in detail and pics from Mother’s Day at my parent’s house below!

One last “warning” because I had a hard time emphasizing that all of these values are “in progress”. We are in no way, shape or form, perfect at any of them… okay, now you can read :)

OUR 5 CORE FAMILY FALUES

  • WE SET EACHOTHER (+ OTHER’S) UP FOR SUCCESS — My personal favorite because instead of forcing things, it reminds me to do what works! It means we support each other when we’re thriving as well as when we’re struggling. It also makes self care a priority so I know exactly what to do when that “mom guilt” creeps up on me! YAY!
  • WE ARE GENEROUS — That means when a student comes to the door with a fundraiser, we buy something. When we are eating out, we leave big tips and when God gives us an opportunity to give to a charity, we give. It also means we’re generous with intangible things too… like patience, love, encouragement, etc.
  • QUALITY TIME — This is why everything from our morning routine, to tuck-ins, and reading is a big thing at our house, and why we plan outings and activities as a family outside of the house (less distractions!). It’s also what makes making an effort to plan date nights and kid dates worth the effort — no matter our love languages.
  • FUN, FUN, FUN — Even when we’re tired, we’re going to rally. Even when the experience/situation is a dud, we’re going to look for ways to make it fun. And when we’re faced with two choices and one will be more fun than the other, we know which one to choose :)
  • WE LOVE LIKE JESUS — This one is more of a challenge to be less selfish, judgmental and fearful and more prayerful, proactive, inclusive, present and approachable. More than anything it makes people’s hearts our priority and dictates how we show up for them. It also requires us to do the hard things when it comes to setting healthy boundaries and navigating relationships… It’s complicated and simple all at the same time and not to be completely cheesy but I find asking WWJD actually really helpful, ha!

Ohhhh, the chaos of trying to get (almost) everyone in the frame. For the most part our kids appreciate and even enjoy getting their pictures taken but that doesn’t mean the process goes smoothly… one of these days I’m going to set up a video camera so we can document and share the whole process, lol.

Skateboarding is easily one of my favorite childhood pastimes so I love anytime we have one to bring on a walk with us…

… Plus it get’s everyone to hold hands which you all know is my favoritest thing ever. Evidence below!

Bumming hard over something his brother did… Oh how I remember this feeling as a kid!

Also, more hand holding below :)

Have you set values or intentions as a family? If not, what would you want to be on your list?

Either way I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences… you guys have the best insights!

xo, Rae

3

PARENTING HACK: EARLY RISER ACTIVITY BASKET

We all know that in most cases, after having kids, a full nights sleep becomes a rare luxury and a Saturday morning spent in bed isn’t going to happen anytime soon, and personally I’m okay with it. However, when the kids roll outta bed at 5:45am on a Saturday, it’s nice to have something quiet and calm for them to do (so they don’t wake up the rest of the house!) that doesn’t involve a screen. Of course we love a little tech time, especially on the weekends but when Poppy and Griff wake up around 6am and the rest of the crew wakes after 8am it can be hard to keep screen time to a reasonable amount. This is where our activity basket has come in handy… Get the full diy and some ideas for making your own below!


GOOD MORNING ACTIVITY BASKET

A Few Ideas:

  • a snack (fruit leathers or a banana and zbars are usually our go-to)
  • calming blend essential oil roller (ours has 5 drops Frankincense, 5 drops tangerine or orange + fractionated coconut oil — the blend promotes feelings of peace and creativity!)
  • coloring supplies (or these water wow books!)
  • favorite picture book (this is our current favorite)
  • pretend and creative play toys (I added a dress-up mask from opposite of far and unicorn horn by brooklyn owl, pipe cleaners + some peppa pig characters… we also have at least one basket of legos in every room of the house which come in handy and also love this chalkboard “laptop”!)
  • a basket or bin for storage
  • HOT TIP: hide the basket when they’re done and then put it out by their bed once they’re asleep at night :)

Meet our two {very} early risers… after hitting the jackpot with three incredibly good sleepers (at least after the first year) and nappers these two non-sleepers came as a bit of a shock to us. Most nights at least one of them crawls into our bed at some point and they both seem to be able to sense when either Johan or I are up and at ’em and then act accordingly, ha! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good snuggle sesh in the morning and am always happy to see their sweet faces but the whole reason I get up early is so I can squeeze in a little work before our day starts. While there’s no shame in Netflix-ing, after a long winter and very rainy April, we’re really trying to cut back on all screens. Having a dedicated basket for them feels special and fun and has been a lifesaver… If you try out an early riser activity basket with your kids, I’d love to know how it goes and do my best to keep up with comments on the blog and DM’s or comments/tags on Instagram so hit me up!!!

These kids and their oils. Obsessed + I don’t blame ’em. I also love that it’s another way to teach them how to pay attention to how they are feeling and then take care of themselves. By the look of these pics, I think Griffin would bathe in oils. Not a coincidence that it’s a calming blend he’s rolling on, lol.

After a few years of using oils and doing all of my own research and sourcing (remember when we used to sell them!?), I finally got smart and signed up for Young Living. Kicking myself for taking so long as it’s saved me time and money and has given me access to products we use daily that I would otherwise have to live without (I see you thieves). I’m still working on setting up a resource page that’s easy to share, but if you’d like to know more, sign up, or ask me alllll the questions you can leave a comment or send me an email at rae(at)raeannkelly(dot)com!

Happy Friday Loves!

xo, Rae

0

READY TO WEEKEND + COMFORT ZONES

It’s FRIDAY (woot!) and to top it off the sun’s out and a couple of the kids don’t have school so we are feeling ready to start the weekend! If you keep up with my Instagram Stories, you probably saw that Ozzie was accepted to WSU this week which had me feeling allll the feelings (it’s where I attended school when he was a babe!) and getting very nostalgic. Johan and I have been chatting a lot about our own adolescents and college years and I was surprised to learn a couple new things about him and vice versa– even after all these years, lol!

During one of our convos something came up that I had almost forgotten about and I thought it would fun to chat about it with you…

When I was a Senior in High School, I took an acting class — something that as more of an athlete and super shy kid was very out of character for me. Of course, I wasn’t all that good even after 6 months of consistent practice and training, but it was SO GOOD FOR ME. Maybe one of the best things I’ve ever done simply because it got me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to people I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

There’s my random fact for the day :)

Can you think of a situation that was totally outside of your comfort zone but you said “yes” anyways? Or fun facts or talents that most people don’t know about you? Please share!?

xo, Rae

PS – a million thank you’s to everyone for their DM’s and messages about Ozzie’s college news… we are so proud of him and so thankful for all the support!

2

LOCATION VS. HOUSE…. (+ OTHER THOUGHTS ON MOVING)


Would you rather… have your dream home in an okay location or an okay home in your dream location?

Asking because we’ve been talking a lot about moving lately and I’m surprised at how undecided I feel on the whole subject. Especially since I never dreamed I’d live in the same state I did most of my growing up and definitely didn’t think when I married Johan who studied abroad in Sweden (in high school) and Australia (in college) and had a degree in international business, that he’d end up in a career that kept him in one spot. So it feels weird to me to be indecisive about where to move…. even when we wouldn’t be moving very far away, lol. BUT there is so much that goes into figuring things out: the budget, location, THE KIDS (especially now that they’re older), friends + family, schools, community, church, commutes, conveniences, etc. And then there’s deciding between a fixer upper or something more move in ready?

Ahhhhh, it’s so hard when what you want and what’s best aren’t the same thing and when the decisions made effects so many people you love! Wishing it was just a bit easier to know what to do!

Have you guys learned any tricks or tips when it comes to moving or making big decisions for your family? Tell me I’m not alone in the overwhelm and indecisiveness…

xo, Rae

PS – can I please just move into that pink lifeguard tower on the beach? That would solve all my problems, lol.

Image source from Sf GIRL… such a great site for interior inspo.

11

HELLO FRIDAY + CARTING THE KIDS AROUND

YAY for the weekend! It’s been such a weird week around here so I’m feeling v. ready… Bring on the Birthday parties, get togethers and sports games.

Speaking of weekend festivities and schedules, I’ve had a few convos with other mom friends about how to manage kid activities and how busy things can get and I have to admit that when I signed Ozzie up for a mommy + me swim class at 14 months old, I had no idea that it was just the beginning… We’ve been running around to classes, fields and gymnasiums ever since and it’s seriously the cutest thing… Not so ironically, I’m currently watching Poppy plié her way through ballet class as I write this!

As the kids get older there’s a lot less mommy + me and a lot more after school sports and clubs, practices and games. It’s still so fun and exciting (and even cute sometimes too), but also comes with some juggling and decision making which I’m the worst at, ha!

Should we sign up for this or that or take a break? Should I say no to that thing for this kid because they need more rest or does this child need a push to take that class because they’re always reluctant but also always happy after they go? It’s all so good but also tricky to navigate.

For me the most helpful approach has been to remember that nothing is permanent and it’s all seasonal — literally. “Jesus take the wheel” prayers always help too… ha!

How do you decide how busy (or not busy) to make your kids’ schedules????

xoxo, Rae

1

CABIN FEVER CURES + A PRINTABLE

We’re smack dab in the middle of that winter grind that seems to last for-ev-errrr (read in sandlot voice). Some days we leave the house for errands and activities, other days are a welcome break that involve pj’s, cookie baking, forts and movies and the rest seem to be full of bored kids, bickering and screen time negotiations. The latter can sometimes sneak up on me so fast that by the time I notice, I’m also feeling totally drained and in no shape to be scrolling through pinterest for activity ideas. Which is why I started making a list to stick on the fridge or bulletin board and thought I’d share in case you’ve been experiencing the same thing.

We have such a big mix of ages in our family but hopefully it still helps and if you want to make your own list, I included a blank page too… CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Do you guys have little tips and tricks for limiting screen time or do you tend to not worry about it and just go with the flow when it comes to tech and tv? The biggest help for us lately has been changing the passwords to everything so they aren’t sneaking off with devices. Oh and did you guys read about the youtube situation happening?… might want to make sure your kids aren’t around if you click on it! Tilly caught a glimpse and was up twice with nightmares last night. Poor thing.

xo, Rae

2

RAISING LOVING SIBLINGS

I feel overly obligated to start by saying I don’t have the whole “loving siblings” thing figured out and that if having 5 kids has taught me anything it’s that they’re all different with varying needs, personalities and relationship dynamics. BUT I do think we’ve done a few things that have helped strengthen bonds between our kids. Whether or not it will payoff in the long run will forever be an open verdict but for now they’ve made our home mostly pleasant and silly with lots of sweet sibling moments sprinkled in. What’s helped more than anything is taking the time to notice what works for each kid — just like love languages and such, each of our kids seem to be influenced differently — so I thought I would break up my tips and ideas based on what works for each of our babes!

HELP OR ENCOURAGE LOVE NOTES + JOURNALS | This is HUGE for Tilly and I think overall there is something so freeing and powerful about being able to jot down your thoughts and sentiments. She’s always slipping notes under doors and crafting mailboxes and envelopes for us to return the favor. This past fall, all the kids wrote letters to Ozzie for his 18th Birthday and I think I cried over all of them. However, it doesn’t have to be fancy — a simple post it note will do!

POINT OUT THE MOMENTS + THE MEMORIES | This is Ozzie all the way. Show him a picture of him and his siblings, remind him of a story, talk about how they’re the same or different, and point out the MOMENTS of bonding that mean so much, like “how awesome is it that you can work together on (fill in the blank)” or “Gosh you guys are such a fun pair!”

FRIENDSHIP OVER SIBLINGSHIP | Swap out “little brother/sister” and “big brother/sister” for “friend” (okay, maybe not all the time!). For example, “gosh your being such a good friend to Poppy!” Griffin (the most high maintenance of the sibs) eats this up! Probably because he’s 4th in the lineup and wants to feel more like part of the crew and less like the “yittle brudder”.

TEACHING CONFLICT RESOLUTION | this is important alllll around, but it also happens to be Poppy’s forte. Girlfriend never backs down from a conflict but always makes sure everyone hugs and makes up. Also not ashamed to say we’ve taken a line from Full House (+ Fuller House, too) — Talk it out, work it out, hug it out!

TEAM BUILDING FTW | Espen shines in this situation but overall, everyone benefits. Anything from playing a game, sharing highs and lows at the dinner table, having them say 3 nice things about each other, organizing a lemonade stand, or giving them a chore to do together, to family nights in, staycations, weekend getaways and longer vacays! And when the kids seem to be at serious odds with each other, organizing a “parents vs. kids” game works like a charm!

Just a bunch of crazies that get to grow up together. (Including us parents.)

Here’s hoping we’re teaching them to appreciate, show up and cheer for each other while being authentic and sincere. Not just forcing them to “get along” — which in my book is totally overrated and should be reserved for coworkers and neighbors. Even if it feels like my sanity might be at risk sometimes, hahahah!

Now it’s your turn… share all your tips! Lord knows I need them!

xo, Rae

Images by Amy Nielson Photography

8

RAISING SELF SUFFICIENT KIDS + A DONUT OUTING

Teaching responsibility and self-sufficiency is one of the hardest parts of parenting for me. Everything from encouraging my kids to wipe their own bums and tie their own shoes to making their own lunches and scheduling their own appointments is messy, uncomfortable and requires loads of patience.

However, “SETTING OURSELVES + OTHERS UP FOR SUCCESS” is one of the 5 core values of our family and therefore, teaching and giving our kids opportunities to take responsibility for themselves and their lives has to be a priority. So I’ve been working on it and gosh it’s hard. Hard to figure out how to be supportive and present but not coddling and enabling. At least for me.

Recently we made a list of everyday teachable moments we’d like to take advantage of. Some of them are things we already do and others are ones we need to start doing but all of them are things we should be doing more of. Here’s what we came up with!

  1. Encouraging them to interact with other humans over the phone and in person – when eating out, ordering food (have them be the ones to call Papa Murphy’s!), checking out at a store, communicating with their coaches or making appointment. The more we rely on texting, apps and web sites, the more important I think this one is. It’s an easy one to implement but also an easy one (for me) to forget!
  2. Teaching them to cook solo, then give them jobs during meal prep like making scrambled eggs for breakfast, throwing together the salad for dinner or following the recipe for brownies and then being the one to serve dessert. Last week Tilly made everyone dinner, start to finish, including setting the table and it was magical! She was so proud and all the kids were excited to eat the pancakes and apple slices she had made. Bonus that it was so sweet to see everyone being supportive and appreciative too!
  3.  Giving them opportunities to make money and save for the things they want. There are always extra projects and chores around the house that we are willing to pay for. Every once in awhile they also have opportunities with the blog (like their gymboree photoshoot) that allow them to make money. Encouraging them to set up lemonade stands, sell cookies, etc is also a fun way to help!
  4. Instead of solving all their problems, answer their dilemmas and complaints with, “Gosh, that’s a bummer… What do you want to do about it?” or “Let me know how I can help” and other leading questions so they can problem solve but know we’re here if they need us. Also, a phrase we repeat often (that I read on a business website) “everything is figure-out-able” reminds them that they are capable!
  5. Keeping track of a calendar and advocating for their needs/requests. This one’s more for the older two since their schedules are busy, and they have smartphones and more freedom. The Cozi Family Organizer has been a huge help (thanks to our friends who recommended it!). It syncs with google calendar so the boys can see what we have going on each day, add their personal activities and put items on our shopping and to do list. No more telling me that they need to bring a box of toothpicks to biology next week, at 10pm on a Friday night… add it to the list! 
  6. Time management. This one is so tough since there is so much room for failure, especially for the kids that are less rigid. But I find that avoiding nagging, giving prompts and sparse reminders and allowing natural consequences (bummer but we don’t have time to make a water bottle, etc.) is effective (yet equally painful) at least for the older kids. I would love to try one of these watches for the younger two!

What would you guys add to the list!? 

Since eating out often brings teachable moments and opportunities for kids to converse with grownups and learn about finances (+ tipping!), I thought I’d share a few pics pics from our most recent donut outing. Side note: Poppy has most definitely nailed the “emo” kid editorial trend that’s happening right now, lol (see below).

Daddy pile!

Snapping pictures of all the details because I never want to forget their little lovies, stuffies, and other toys or accessories they bring with us on our adventures! Or their silly smiles.

Johan and I have been meaning to give Oz opportunities to practice paying bills, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it… any ideas, please share!

xo, Rae

2

VIDEO: AVOIDING THE HOLIDAY MELTDOWNS + EASY MOMMY + ME YOGA

The girls and I put together a little Holiday themed yoga (with lots of stretching) sequence and are so excited to share! I’ve mentioned a couple times (here + no. 11 here) that we use yoga to help all of us slowdown, wind-down and reconnect and with the hustle and bustle of Christmas and endless opportunities to consume sugar I figured we all could use some zen-ness!

Hopefully the names and moves make it easy to remember! A little description of each…

  • GINGERBREAD HOUSE – a house pose with feet apart and hands together over your head to make a roof.
  • CHRISTMAS TREE – same a the tree pose, hands together to make the top of the tree, and depending on level of difficulty and balance, place foot above or below your knee.
  • STAR – feet apart and hands out at your side… then can’t resist doing some jumping jacks (slash elves).
  • CANDY CANE – bend side to side to stretch!
  • SNOW DOG – classic downward dog, but don’t forget to lift each leg and shake the snow off.
  • MAKE COOKIES – stretch your legs and core by grabbing dough, rolling it out, then grabbing flour, cookie cutters, frosting and sprinkles as you turn to each side.
  • REINDEER – gotta get ready to pull santa’s sleigh so stretch out that booty by pulling your knee to chest and then adding antlers with your hands, because you’re a reindeer, ha! :)
  • SANTA’S SLEIGH – normally called the bow pose.
  • SUGAR PLUM – we always finish by resting on our backs or stomaches… if it’s right before bedtime we’ll add some deep breaths and close our eyes, if not it always ends up in a pig pile!

What other poses or stretches could you give a Christmas-y name?

How do you guys like to slowdown during the holidays?

xo, Rae

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