12 New Year Traditions – for the whole Family

Second to Christmas, New Year’s is the most busiest time of year. With all the after Christmas rush, vacation traveling, and shopping, on top of getting ready for the New Year and the party to come!

There are many ways people around the world celebrate NYE. -many of which include many non-kid-friendly activities. But, who says the kid’s shouldn’t be included in the festivities? Here are the 12 BEST Kid-Friendly NYE Traditions to ring in the New Year with the whole family!

  • Ball Drop – The NYE Classic Ball Drop has been happening since 1907. The NYE Ball – also known as the Time’s Square Ball may be located in New York, but the Ball Drop and celebration is broadcast live on FOX. The show begins at 6PM with live performances. If you’re looking for something that accommodates an early bedtime and a little more kid-friendly, YouTube has many countdown shows to go along with. Best part is.. you (or they) don’t have to wait until midnight!
  • Board Games – Board games are back in and kids love them! – Don’t pull out the Monopoly just yet. There’s plenty of kid approved games that YOU will love too. Try new games like “Throw Throw Burrito” or “Don’t Make Me Laugh”. Matching games and puzzles are a sure win for the younger ones.
  • Dance Party – Who doesn’t love to dance? Create a playlist, stream YouTube or Spotify, or just throw in a your favorite CD. However you jam, make it fun. Have a dance competition to see who can last the longest. Be sure to throw in the Electric Slide and Macarena!
  • Make Goals for the Year – What better way to get a head start on the New Year than to create goals? What are some things you wish you would have done this year but didn’t? (Doesn’t necessarily have to be work or school related) Go to the state fair? Go visit Uncle James out of state? Whatever it is, get the whole family involved and let each person come up with something.
  • Photo Album – Gather up all your photos from the past year and turn them into an album or scrapbook. Make it fun and add stickers, and phrases! Don’t worry, if most of your photos are on your computer or phone, Walgreen’s makes it easy to turn them into prints! Simply download the app, select photos and print! Most locations even offer prints within 1 hour!
  • Bake Something New – Cake Pops, Oreo Balls, Candy Bar Pie. There are so many one-of-a-kind desserts and dishes you can create by just “throwing” things together. Make memories in the kitchen and teach your kids some cooking skills while you’re at it. Try a new concoction – it may or may not taste great, but hey, at least you had fun making it!
  • Brighten Someone’s Day – Some where out there, someone got stuck working New Year’s Eve. Put together a small gift (candle, card, lotion), or re-gift something you may not use. Visit a local restaurant or grocery store that you know is open and give a small gift to an employee. It’s a small gesture that is sure to put a smile on someone’s face!
  • Take the Christmas Tree Down – There’s no law that states the tree has to come down immediately after Christmas. Taking down the Christmas Tree can become a family event just as putting it up was. Have each person take their ornaments off and wrap them neatly. Enjoy some hot cocoa and Christmas music while you’re at it. After all, you’ve got a whole night ahead of you!
  • NYE Movies – Some of my greatest memories on NYE as a child were watching Zenon and the all Zequals until what felt like mid morning. (It was probably only 10PM, but still) Disney movies bring such a good vibe to the setting and if you haven’t gotten Disney+ already.. Now’s the time! Plans start at just $6.99/mo. There are SO many (nostalgic) movies and shows available! Trust me, you’ll ALL love it!
  • Sleepover – What better way to celebrate the new year than with the ones you love? Invite close friends or family to spend the night. Let them join in on all the festivities with you.
  • Plan out the Year – Well..not the ENTIRE year! Pick up a calendar for the next year and sit down and write each birthday, anniversary or important date you’d like to remember. Even add events like the county fair or concerts that you’d like to attend. This will not only save you time planning for things, but it will also prepare you if you need to save up money for gifts or tickets!
  • Say Goodbye to Old Items – New year celebration is about closing a chapter in our book and opening another. Some of us make resolutions to say goodbye to old habits, so why not do the same with items? Make it a resolution to de-clutter this NYE by gathering up items that don’t bring you joy. This will bring in more room for happiness in the year to come.

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Top 10 Gifts that Keep Giving in 2020

Top Gifts

It’s that time of year again. The time where we spend almost 2 months (sometimes more) shopping for that perfect gift for the ones we love, just to find out months later, it wasn’t really that perfect. I myself am guilty of receiving gifts that I have no intention of ever using. It’s common, some things just don’t fit in our lives or lifestyle. This year, I’ve opted into not gifting common “junk” items, but gifting actually useful items that will continue to give by getting daily use or creating a life-long memory.

Remember, there’s no law stating that you have to gift material items. Yes, the (younger) kids might usually not see the actual meaning in this. But, you have to remember that “It’s the thought that counts, AND the memory that lasts”.

On the other hand, I have been gifted some amazing gifts in the past few years that I actually still continue to use that I’ll be adding to the list! They are for sure a win!

Whether you’re shopping for a relative, friend, or even coworker, these gifts are sure to continue to impress! Let’s Begin.

#1 – Local Amusement Season Pass –

Whether you live in a big city or a small town, there’s usually always some kind of amusement facility – and they more than likely offer season passes! Season passes are perfect because they’ll get unlimited visits (and fun) for an entire year! Between amusement parks, zoos skating rinks, recreation centers, trampoline parks, or even museums, there’s lots to choose from! Many places even offer discounts on season passes this time of year because of the “slower” season. Depending on which you choose, the prices will definitely vary. Amusement Parks like Six Flags or Silver Dollar City may range from $75 – $250 for the entire year, while museums or zoos can range from $20-$150.

Water Park season passes make great gifts, too!

 

#2 – Activity/Lessons at the Rec Center –

Check out your local Gym, Recreation or Sports center. Many offer different variations of Yoga, Dance, Art class, or even Horseback Riding lessons. Whatever you may choose, your gift receiver will definitely appreciate the though and the time out to socialize!

#3 – Small Getaway or a Staycation –

Who says vacations have to be expensive? Plan a small weekend getaway in a nearby city or a simple weekend at home with all the extras – dinner, movie, drinks, games, self care kit, etc. – so they won’t even have to leave the house.. staycation at it’s best! Check out Groupon for some great deals on attractions, restaurants, and even hotels in cities near you!

#4 – Landmark at a Museum or Local Treasure –

Do you ever walk down a sidewalk downtown and notice an entire pathway of bricks with names on them? It’s not just for famous people! Visit a local library, zoo, or museum to see if they have any spots open for a name. Usually, depending on the area, 1 brick could cost around $40-$50, some even just take donations! This is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Just think, every time they visit the zoo, they will stop at that spot, find their name, and feel so special!

#5 – Concert or Event Tickets –

Who doesn’t love going to live events? With all the new events like Monster Trucks, Sesame Street Live, WWE, Renaissance Fairs, even concerts involving your favorite band or artist! You’ll be able to find tickets for all ages and they’ll be sure to love the experience and fun! Again.. make sure you check out Groupon first! Sometimes they have awesome deals on tickets!

#6 – Amazon Alexa Show –

I received a my first Alexa as a gift 2 years ago (which is still in GREAT standing btw) and I soon found out it was a gift I never knew I needed. Not only does Alexa answer your simple everyday questions like “what time is it?” or “what’s the weather today?”, BUT you can also play your favorite music, games, go shopping, call your friends and family, hear amazing news and facts, listen to her corny jokes, and so much more! She even reads bedtime stories! Another great reason to gift an Alexa is for home security. If you’re looking at the Alexa shows, they have a built in camera which only you (or others only IF you choose) can drop in on when necessary. You can even sync your Alexa with some of your favorite home security devices, or Alexa plug in outlets – which can turn lights on and off when you ask Alexa. There are endless possibilities with an Alexa device and it’s sure to continue to give throughout the years!

#7 – Robot Vacuum –

The average family spends over 50 hours a year vacuuming. That’s more than an entire 2 DAYS! Imagine, not having to plan when to vacuum or who’s chore it is this week. Robot vacuums are perfect for this. Simply set the timer and settings, and it does all the work for you. Some even have mopping capability! These are perfect gifts for anybody, imagine how much time you’ll save them in the future! Many of them last for years – we’ve had ours for going on 6 years. My favorite is this EcoVacs DeepBot which has max power suction and up to 110 minute run time!

#8 – Ancestry DNA Test –

If you haven’t yet heard of the Ancestry DNA test, you’re missing out! It’s so easy, they send you a DNA kit with all the info and instructions – which can be easily wrapped and gifted – the recipient mails the saliva samples with the prepaid shipping label, and within weeks they’ll receive the results. These make great gifts for anyone wanting to learn more about their background. Not only would they learn their origins and ethnicity, but Ancestry DNA matches DNA with others – possibly finding long lost relatives. They’ll also receive historical and geographical insights on past relatives! Sign up and save 15% on your DNA kit here!

#9 – Photo Album –

Taken a family trip or friends-cation in the past year? Gather all your photos up and display them in a well-put together photo album! Whether it’s a simple flip book with replaceable photos or a pre-made album that you made digitally, Walgreen’s has you covered. You can print photos for a great price, or you can usually find a great price on photo albums this time of year. You can add text, choose your pictures and sizes, and pick your colors and designs while making these memorable gifts!

#10 Cast Iron Skillet Set –

Seem a bit cliche to get your aunt another kitchen accessory? Trust me, this is not the case. People have been using cast iron for decades, and when I say decades I mean they LAST for decades! There are so many benefits to using cast iron skillets aside from the fact that they are so durable and easy to clean! It is best to get something pre-seasoned and around 8″ to 10″ because they can be used to cook practically anything! This 2-Piece Skillet Set is perfect because it comes with heat resistant holders for each skillet! And yes, they are induction safe also!

What are your favorite non-traditional gifts to give? Comment below and let us know!

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8 *Must-Do* Thanksgiving Traditions

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Ahhh, the Holidays! Many of us have a love hate relationship with the majority of the holidays as they tend to be frantic with all the shopping, traveling, cooking, and not to mention cleaning up afterwards. Sometimes we get so stuck in the rush and forget what the holidays are all about – bringing family together. What better way to celebrate togetherness than to create a tradition?

Thanksgiving at my house mostly starts off as a calm day . I begin preparing food and cooking in the morning, and then later we travel to a relative’s house for an early dinner with the family. Throughout the day, we try to incorporate as much family time as we can. Whether you’re the one hosting or attending the Thanksgiving meal, these traditions are sure to bring out the interaction and get the thankful vibes going!

Simple Breakfast – Sure, you have the day off and it’s the one time you’ll actually have a chance to cook for breakfast. But remember, you’ll already have a ton of dishes from the cooking today and you don’t want to eat too heavy so you can save room for the feast later! Instead, opt in for something quick that requires minimal dishes. Even a simple box of Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls can go a long way. Have the family join in and help add the icing!

Macy’s Day Parade – Now it’s time to grab your bites and head to the family room for some good old TV! The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been broadcast live since 1948! It is known as one of the world’s largest parades and takes place in New York City. This parade showcases some of the most creative and gigantic floats, plus offers some dance and musical performances. It’s sure to entertain even the little ones! Parade starts at 9AM EST on NBC!

Cooking/Baking Together – Whether you’re bringing one dish or providing the entire feast, let the kids join in on the culinary fun! This is not only great for your children to build skills in the kitchen, but also gives them an opportunity to take part in something big. Just think, when you bring that Green Bean Casserole to Uncle George’s house, your child can say “I helped make that!”. BONUS – Let everyone take part in the clean up after the cooking also! This is a great way to remind them that everyone in the house eats, so everyone should take a part in every aspect of the help.

Make it Outdoors – By the time Thanksgiving hits, it’s pretty cool outside, but not yet freezing. If it’s a sunny day, grab a jacket and step outside! Drag a relative with you and go for a walk around the block, watch the turkeys fly, and enjoy the soundless sky. You’ll get some fresh air and a little peace away from all the craziness going on indoors.

Do a Good Deed – Usually most public businesses are closed on this Holiday, but there are a few places crunching to stay open – which means employees have to sacrifice their time too. Bring the whole family along to take the time to visit one of these places and compliment the worker(s) on how awesome they are for working this day! Maybe even throw a small gift basket together to brighten their day. Whatever your good deed may be, it’s the sense of really giving back.

Game Night – Let’s face it, most of the night will be crowded around a table anyways, so why not throw in a few games? Card games like Uno, War, and Goldfish are a sure win for almost every age!

The Thankful Game – This is such a wonderful reminder of what Thanksgiving is really about. Have everyone sit in a circle and give each person a piece of paper and pen. Put a bowl in the middle of the circle. Each person gets to write about 3 things they are most thankful for this year and put the paper in the jar. When everyone is done adding things to the jar, go around the room and each person picks a paper out of the bowl and reads one of the lists. It’s a great way to learn about what is really important to each one of us and to take a step back and enjoy the moment.

Hot Cocoa & Thanksgiving Movie – What better way to wind down from all the fun than to sit back and enjoy a nice warm cup of hot chocolate? Yes, kids can be messy, especially around carpet, which is why I like these reusable Spill Proof Coffee Cups for nights like these! There are so many options on the playlist for the perfect Thanksgiving movies, but you could start with the classics like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Freebirds, or even go with a National Lampoon’s to really get in the holiday spirit!

These are just a handful of traditions that I’ve tried that are great to get the Thanksgiving spirit started. What other traditions are you faithful to on this Holiday?

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Work Life vs. Mom Life Balancing Tips

We have a ton of expectations put on us as moms. Between cooking, cleaning, budgeting, meal planning, attending sporting events, playing nurse ..(the list goes on!) and in some occasions to even work a full time job. High five to the moms that do it, because some of us still haven’t figured it all out yet. I have had a good share of working full time, part time, and working at home while trying to balance every bit of mom life, so I’m here to share my best tips..

Get on a schedule – This is priority! Start out by writing a template of what your day is like now and include the must do’s like cooking, getting ready, breakfast, and even laundry. If you have an hour or two of “free time” during naps or while the kids are at school be sure to use up this time for things you need to do alone like writing, emails, or phone calls. Be sure to insert time for rest and family time. I have an example of what my daily schedule looks like here. The schedule system keeps my family and I stay organized an on track throughout the week!

Set goals – Each Monday, I write out a specific list of everything I want to get accomplished this week. This includes work, home and family related goals. On Thursday I might notice the weather is going to be warmer than usual, so I would make it a goal to have a picnic at the park. Or Friday, I might have a client that needs a project done. I make sure to include everything that has a priority over normal daily chores also like mopping the floors or taking down Halloween decorations. When all your goals are set, be sure to jot them down as tasks to complete on your schedule so you’ll always stay on top of completing them!

Invest in an agenda or calendar– In recent years, I’ve never been known to even look at the calendar (other than my phone). I’d occasionally miss birthdays, anniversaries and even annual events that our family has longed to attend. Now, I like to buy ONE calendar at the beginning of the year, and include each birthday or anniversary that I’d like to remember or celebrate. I also include things that I know are going to happen throughout the year like school events or even sales. We like to set a reminder in our Amazon Alexa for the most important dates, so we’re extra prepared. You can create a custom calendar at Walgreens.com for a decent price. It is truly a lifesaver!

Plan your meals – So, your days are filled with work, chores and what ever else life throws at you, but we can’t forget about the most important thing.. MEALS! Meal planning is a necessity, especially if you’re trying to save money! Yes, it’s so easy to just get in your car and go grab a quick bite – BUT it’s easier (and cheaper) to have something at least set out and planned for. It also keeps your mind at ease and less thrown off when it’s time to eat!

Teach your kids about alone time – This is for the older kids! Children benefit from alone time, especially tweens/teens. Alone time is a form of self care, it helps our brains relax and wind down after being around so many people throughout the day. Alone time can also boost productivity and help independence. Let them have some quiet time reading a magazine or listening to music for a half hour or so! This also benefits you as you’ll get a little extra time to yourself or household tasks.

Accept that nothing will ever be perfect– Always never. Sometimes, as moms, we get so caught up into trying to be that perfect *Super Mom* and we forget that it’s literally not possible. The dishes will not always be clean, work will never be completely done, and not everybody will always be happy. Just try to remember that things won’t always be this way!

Always show up for you and them– In our household, we strive to put family first. Remember earlier in the week when you wrote down all your weekly goals? Try to include at least 2-3 times per week of “family time” or events. Have a movie night, make crafts together, or just go for a walk! Remember that this is the reason why you’re doing it all… Family!

We know it’s hard playing multiple roles in any household. But it’s always great to have motivation and some place to start. What tips do you have for keeping life balanced?

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10 Activities FREE for Kids on Any Day

 

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We’ve all been there. Kids have a day off of school but on a tight budget? Between zoo trips, movie theatres, and arcades, expenses add up quick! I’ve had a lot of “boring” days just sitting around the house because we couldn’t imagine going out and fishing money out on these things. So, I’ve done some research and found there’s actually quite many FREE activities many do as a whole family, so we don’t have to break our wallet.

  • Library- Libraries aren’t just for books! You can also find movies, board games, magazines, local yearbooks and many other fun things at the Library. Many Libraries also offer free Story Time for little ones! For the older kids, they may have simple art activities or reading contests to participate in. Check with your local library to see what kind of Free Fun they offer!
  • Scavenger Hunt – These are all the trends on local deal sites nowadays. Why pay someone to supply you with a popularized scavenger hunt when you can make one with your own twist? Take it to the park, or even around town. Make a list of things you might see out of the ordinary like a squirrel digging in the ground, and things that are ordinary like pinecones, or people bike riding! Make it fun and like a contest. “Whoever wins, gets to choose what we do next”. Kids love these type of activities and it gets them out of the house and into the outdoors.
  • Go to the Park – And not just the park down the street that you’re familiar with! Be a tourist in your own town, explore new parks, city monuments, trails or statues. Not all parks are created equal. Some parks have more new and unique playground equipment than others, so the kids get excited to be playing on new things! Some parks even have read along, or exercising trails to keep kids occupied while you’re out for a stroll.
  • Free “Zoo” or Aquarium – Check the nearest cities near you, one of them (usually the largest) is likely to have a small free “zoo” or aquarium where they have animals like birds, turtles or fish on display. Some of these facilities may also offer free education areas where children can participate in hands-on activities and learn all about animals and the environment around them.
  • Splash Pad – What kid doesn’t love playing in the water?! “Splash pads” are basically water playgrounds! They consist of all kinds of sprinkler-like equipment designed for kids to have fun and stay cool during the summer. Bonus, YOU can also join in on the fun. No shame in our game here.. We’ve done it! 
  • Free days at the Zoo – Our local zoo offers “free days” every once in a while. Admission is usually no charge AND they offer discounted boat or train tours. When the zoo announces which day they are offering these free admission days, we check our calendars and write it in if we are free that day! It’s so worth it if you only end up going to the zoo once or twice a year anyway. Why not go on a free day?
  • Recreation Center – This is an option that is usually overlooked by most parents. Check with your local recreation center, they may offer free admission for kids! This is great because recreation centers are perfect places for kids to interact and get exercise. They can play basketball, walk around the track, and even play in the designated kids area which usually has some type of arcade games.
  • Bowling – Free Bowling all summer long? YES, Please. Kids get free admission to bowl any day of the summer when you sign up at kidsbowlfree.com. Our kids love the bowling alley because it provides a low-key environment where they can let off some steam. Plus, it’s indoors so you stay cool! The only downfall is you have to bring your own bowling shoes.
  • Movie Days – I’m not talking about the movie theatre here. Some parks, libraries, even local businesses sometimes offer free outdoor or even indoor movie days. Our local humane society does this at least once a month! It’s a great way for kids to get out and socialize and maybe see a movie they’ve never thought of watching.
  • Concert in the Park- Do you ever drive past a crowd of people downtown  and say “I wonder what’s going on there?” Check it out, it’s probably a free event! Car shows, festivals, and farmers markets are always free to walk around, get out and meet new people. You get to take in the fresh air and experience things you don’t typically see at home. Farmers markets are great for getting children’s brains going! My son got the idea to set up his own stand after seeing that kids can do it too at the farmer’s market!

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A Stay-at-Home Mom Schedule – How to Manage Your Time


Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of disorganization. I mean, who actually is anyway? Life can get out of order quick between work, sports, cooking, and cleaning, especially if you’re not able to grasp a hold of the basics. Implementing a daily routine and schedule has sort of been a life saver for my family. If you haven’t read my blog about the block schedule we follow, you can check it out here.

Not only do we go by a schedule, but we implement small things that help us keep the disorder a tad more together throughout the entire day. 

Things that you can easily apply to your everyday tasks to help you get things done faster, and more efficient! (Heck Yes!) Here’s a simplified version of my daily routine and how things usually go in our household.

  • Wake Up on Time – And don’t, I repeat, DON’T hit snooze. Giving yourself an extra 5 minutes of sleep will only make you more tired than you were the first time your alarm went off. To help ease into full awakeness, I try turning on some uplifting music, or a favorite podcast on the Alexa Echo Show.
  • Before I Get out the Door – Take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, brew some tea, take vitamins. Not only do I do those basic to-dos, but this is also the time where I like to make sure I have everything set out or thawed for dinner that night and a load of laundry and dishes done. I have a blog post that goes into depth on how to keep the chaos out of mornings! You’ll find many helpful tips to keep this idea into rhythm. Check it out here!
  • Work Mode – This is the time that I call my “free” time, now that I am a stay at home mom. The kids are off to school and I have a few hours to myself. During this period, I put anything related to work as a first priority, then answer to any phone calls, emails, and social media, and lastly house work. I usually do either 2 or 3 loads of laundry a day, so this would be the time that the second gets done, and then I would focus on preparing lunch and preparing dinner items. (It’s usually about 2 or 3 in the afternoon when I start dinner) Trust me, it eliminates a TON of clutter! Oh, and I try to get a load of dishes going in the dish washer.
  • Family Time– Everyone is getting home from school and work. We sit down and empty our backpacks, lunch boxes, and workloads.  This would also be the time that we participate in any sports activities, school events, etc. (if there’s any going on that night). This is the second most hectic part of the day, which is why I use my own time to prepare for dinner when I can.
  • Prep for the Night + Dinner – We start preparing for tomorrow, lunches planned and made, backpacks ready to grab, and last load of dishes and laundry done. We try to sit at the table and eat together as a family each night. Sometimes sports run late and do not allow this, so some of us may start to wind down, while the others are just getting home. After dinner is all said and done, we clean up the kitchen as a family. I believe if we all eat, we all should chip in! Not just the person who cooks because that would just make the workload bigger for them. The kids help us with wiping the table and sweeping, while we do dishes and clean the counters.
  • Wind Down –  After dinner is the time we start to wind down. Anything that we haven’t gotten accomplished previously that needs attention like homework or packing lunches, we do it now. Showers and bath time. If we have any free time before bedtime comes, we allow the kids to have electronic time, TV or Tablet.
  • Bedtime – We brush our teeth, read stories and tuck in time. Before I go to bed, I like to grab my notepad and write down anything that’s on my mind that I would want to get done the next day. It’s a trick I learned from an old friend, it helps you de-stress and be one step ahead!

Not every day is the same, and of course weekends are totally different! Some nights we will go out to eat, which will eliminate the cooking part(s) of the day. But for the most part, this is a good outline on an average day for us! 

What steps do you take in your daily routine to get ready for tomorrow?

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10 Tips to Make your Morning Easier

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of waking up late, accidentally skipping breakfast, and rushing out the door. Countless times I’ve felt like I just simply couldn’t handle mornings… or maybe I just wasn’t a morning person. That wasn’t the case, I’ve grown to like mornings now. Yes, mornings are always going to be crazy, we have to accept that as parents. BUT, they don’t have to be hectic. Simple steps you can take TODAY will help you a great deal tomorrow morning! 

  • Think about Breakfast – In our house, breakfast was usually the messiest and indecisive part of the morning. It would take our kids at least 5 minutes to decide what they actually wanted, and usually they would choose something that takes a lot of effort to cook, not to mention the dishes afterwards! Instead, conversate with them about what’s going to be available for breakfast the next day. Make sure you have at least 2-3 options available for grabs without any necessity of cooking in the morning. Each week, I like to add at least 1 breakfast item like burritos or egg roll ups to my meal prep, it keeps mornings simple and takes a load off on dishes!
  • Set your Clothes out – Ever sat in front of your closet and couldn’t decide what to wear? Yep! On average, it takes us 10 minutes longer to get dressed and ready for the day if we don’t already have our clothes picked out.  Before you go to bed, try to go through everything you’ll wear the next day, including socks, shoes, and any accessories, then set them aside near where you normally get dressed. You’ll have everything right there in one spot instead of going back and forth to different drawers. 
  • Pack Bags and Backpacks – Kids have homework last night and leave everything scattered all over the table? Can’t find your wallet or forgot where you put your keys? You definitely don’t want to risk being late in the morning because you were searching for these items. Instead, pack your purse, backpacks, or any bag you’ll need the next day and set them by the door. You’ll be so thankful the next morning when you remember your keys are where you actually intended to put them!
  • Clean – Think about all the morning motions you go through that involve cleaning. The dirty clothes, laundry, dishes, picking up here and there. Before bedtime, try to pick items off the floor, unload the dishwasher, or start a new load of laundry in the washer. It’ll put you one extra step ahead of the game tomorrow.
  • Set your Alarm – Yes, yes, it’s a given. But I’m not talking about your average wake up call. I have 3 alarms set in the morning. 1. To wake up (of course) 2. Time to eat breakfast and 3. To start heading out the door. When the second alarm goes off, we know we should be dressed and in the kitchen. By the third alarm, we’re all ready to head out. Planning what you’ll have accomplished in between alarms is key. It’s helped us to wake up and be dressed before breakfast time, then after breakfast, finish up hair and anything that needs attention before we leave.
  • Eliminate TV Time – It’s so easy to get sucked into electronics, and so hard to pull yourself (and kids) out of them! Skip the hassle and opt into an electronic free morning. Instead, if you have free time, make it a habit to start up an interesting conversation together, study spelling words, or even do morning chores! 
  • Make a List – Many adults suffer from lack of sleep and much of it can be due to overthinking. Have a notebook and pen by your side at bedtime. Take 5 minutes and go through the motions of today and tomorrow and write down anything that you need to accomplish or what comes to mind. This will help empty your brain before bedtime, making you feel less stressed and more relaxed. Plus, when you wake up, you’ll have your goals set without having to think about it all over again!
  • Plan for Lunch the Day Before – This has been an absolute game changer in our house. Not only does it save time in the mornings, but it also saves us a ton of money in the long run. No more trying to throw a quick sandwich together or just giving up altogether and going out for lunch. This trick will save you from even going out AND save you money on groceries! The day before, start thinking about what you can make for lunch, think about things that are just sitting in your fridge waiting to be eaten. Maybe throw a chicken salad together, or a cheese quesadilla with salsa. Grab some fruit and a couple pieces of celery with peanut butter, it pays to get creative! Prepare all lunches while you’re making dinner the night before and have it ready to pack in the fridge.
  • Adopt a Ritual – Not a morning person? I feel you, I do! What helped me turn from night owl to morning rooster was a change in my pace and outlook on mornings. Turns out, I was staying up a little too late and not getting anything accomplished at night, which made me cranky in the morning. Try going to bed or settling down an hour or 2 earlier so you can get a little extra shut eye. Then, if you’re feeling spontaneous enough, start getting up a little earlier each day to maybe indulge in a cup of coffee or enjoy a few minutes to yourself. Make it a ritual to do something you enjoy in the mornings too! This will help your body kind of stress down and rev up for the day.
  • Leave Room for Mishaps – Of course you’re not going to be able to implicate every single one of these steps tomorrow morning. There will be days where you forget about your lunch, or your alarm doesn’t go off. Nobody and no day is ever perfect 100% of the time. It’s all about balance. Adding one simple step each day will help produce healthy and productive habits.

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7 Road Trip Hacks to Save Money with Kids

  Taking a road trip with your family is a great way to spend quality time together. You get to learn new things, see new places, and gain new experiences! Some of the most memorable times I have as a child are when we were on the road, our longest road trip was even 18 hours! Now as a parent, I know it can get expensive fast if you don’t have a plan in tact. Plus, when traveling with little ones and even the older kiddos they get bored SO easily. Last year, our family took a 3-day road trip (with 4 kids) and we learned quickly that we needed to implement some organization and budgeting into our vacation! So, I set out to find the best tricks, games and tips to keep the kids occupied and adults happy that they’re saving money while taking a road trip! 

Because.. WHO doesn’t like saving money? More vacations, right?

  • Make a Plan – Whether it’s a day trip or a week-long trip. Make. A. Plan. Write down every place you’re planning on going, and have it mapped out on paper so everyone is aware of what’s happening. If you have it all written and planned out, you’re more likely to stick to it. Make sure to include stops in between for gas, bathroom breaks, or even that gigantic taco museum on the way! Making a plan will eliminate any room for sudden splurges on food or events. We like to bring a pocket folder and include everything we plan on using the entire trip.. Coupons, tickets, gift cards, etc.

  • Never Pay for Breakfast – Breakfast is the cheapest and easiest meal of the day to supply. Whether you like eggs, cereal, bacon, granola bars, donuts, cinnamon rolls, or even breakfast burritos, you can prep all these things before hand and have them ready to grab for breakfast time! This also takes the hectic out of the morning if you’re planning on heading back out on the road. BONUS: Check with your hotel to see if they offer free breakfast! Most hotels offer cereal, bagels, and even sausage and eggs!
  • Keep the Kids Happy – Usually within 30 minutes of driving, our kids are known to get bored and start resorting to saying things like “Can we stop somewhere?” or “I’m hungry”. We like to create a personal bag and folder for each of the kids that include snacks, drinks, and activities throughout the trip. The activities range for each child as they are all different ages. The younger children have coloring pages and number sheets, while the older kids have scavenger hunts and wordsearches. When packing the snack bag, we lay out all the available snacks and drinks on the counter and let each kid pick 6 or 7 snacks and 2 or 3 drinks (depending on the duration of the trip) to fill up their bag. This way they get to choose something they know they won’t waste later and they take responsibility for their choices.

  • Combine your Expenses – Planning on going to a waterpark or an amusement park? Do some research on your destination to see if they offer discounts on hotels or dining. Some places usually have packages that include admission to their park AND nightly stays at a nearby hotel. You can save on gas, lodging, and fun!
  • Fill up – Before you leave for your trip, make sure your gas tank is filled up, or you’re planning to get gas first thing after you leave. Then, try only to refill when you’re almost on empty or getting close. This eliminates any extra gas station expenses such as drinks, snacks, or unwanted and overpriced gas station “souvenirs”. (You can purchase souvenirs on your time!)
  • Plan for error – Always have a tiny budget set aside for any surprises you may have along the way. This will help you budget in things that pop up along the way like a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try that you didn’t know was along the way or say there was an unexpected parking fee you had to pay. An extra $75-$100 does it for us. Considering admission to anywhere per person is usually at least $12, or the average meal per person could be anywhere from $7 to $20. Pick an amount that works for your family.
  • Have Fun – Literally! Don’t stress about everything going perfect the entire trip. Sure, maybe the hotel you choose may not be as “4 star” as the reviews stated, or you ended up making an extra stop for windshield fluid. You can always tailor your plans if you need to. The most important factor in road trips are quality time with the people you love! So, put on a show, throw in a sing-a-long CD, or even put together a road sign scavenger hunt. These are the memories that stick with your kids for their lifetime.

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