• Raising Kids

    An Elf on the Shelf Twist that Shifts the Focus for Kids

    We have an elf who visits our house each year leading up to Christmas, popping up in a different hiding spot every morning. His name is Jon Snow. (We were in the thick of Game of Thrones the first year he arrived, but it just sounds like a wintry name to our kids!) We tell our kids he is here from the North Pole, reporting back to Santa about their behavior. No, we are not one of the families whose elf causes all kinds of meme-worthy mischief and shenanigans, but my kids have so much fun looking for him first thing in the morning. For us, it adds to our…

  • Thank you bag with heart for teacher gift
    Gift Guides,  Raising Kids

    The Top 5 Teacher Gift Mistakes to Avoid

    When it’s time to pick out a teacher gift, do you ever have trouble deciding what to give? How do you adequately honor the person who spends hours educating and caring for your child each day? Teachers I have talked to don’t seem to expect anything, and they appreciate any gesture a parent makes to recognize them during Teacher Appreciation Week, the holiday season, or the end of the school year. But when I asked them what they really did and did not want to receive as teacher gifts, they were not shy about speaking up, and certain patterns became very clear! Before you solidify your choices for your next…

  • Raising Kids

    Your Guide to Coasting through a Long Road Trip with Kids

    Guest Post by Ashlee Gecewich I grew up going to the beach each year and knew I wanted my own children to have the same experiences I had as a child. However, living in Central Ohio, there isn’t exactly a beach close by. Knowing I wanted my kids to get to the beach and create their own memories, I knew we had some long road trips with kids in our future. Road trips get me excited! A dream of mine is to take my family of five on a cross-country drive. I want to see everything, and I want my kids to see everything! I want to drive from coast…

  • Baby holding bottle of formula
    Raising Kids

    7 Baby Formula Feeding Tips to Make Your Life Easier

    Baby formula is a safe and easy alternative to breastfeeding, chosen by many parents at various stages of their babies’ infancy. If you’ve chosen to formula-feed your baby, prepare to make it both easy and more affordable with these tried-and-true formula feeding tips and products. Moms on my Four to Love Facebook page shared many of these ideas! This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. Formula Feeding Tip #1: Choose generic baby formula brands. Generic brand baby formulas are nearly identical to their name…

  • Plate of spaghetti and meatballs, one example of an family dinner idea.
    Raising Kids

    15 Easy Family Dinner Ideas Your Kids Might Actually Eat

    Easy family dinner ideas that please all three of my non-infant kids and are not pizza, hot dogs, or peanut butter and jelly are hard to come by. But every once in a while, we’ll find a winner that gets integrated into our meal rotation. The best family dinner ideas in my book are ones that are easy to make, use ingredients I am relatively likely to have on hand and are met with little to no resistance by at least one of my kids (because you can’t win them all!). Bonus if it dirties only one pot or pan! Here I share 15 of my favorite easy family dinner…

  • Mess on the floor that child should clean up
    Raising Kids

    10 Ways to Get Kids to Clean Up After Themselves

    I wish that I could say I had trained my kids from the get-go to clean up after themselves. I wish I could say they were born neat, or that I have successfully implemented a chore system (which I really should try to do soon). On the contrary, I have raised super messy kids. It feels like I can have a room all picked up, and then in a matter of minutes, everything will be everywhere once again. Like shoveling in a snowstorm, people say. It’s not just the toddler — the preschooler and first-grader are just as guilty. However, every once in a while, I will decide that I…

  • Child learning how to keep busy at home with sidewalk chalk.
    Raising Kids

    A Day Well Spent Printable Checklist for Kids

    Have you ever wondered how to keep kids busy at home when you’ve got a whole day stretching ahead of you? If I’m not careful, days with my kids can quickly turn into marathons of their favorite streaming shows and incessant begging for snacks. When I’m on my game, I help my kids come up with ideas to craft their own day well spent. Although it’s important for kids to come up with their own activities, sometimes they need a little guidance about where to start. That’s why I have created a checklist for kids called “A Day Well Spent.” It includes a balanced mix of creativity, social skills, physical…

  • Mom with three kids and a fourth baby
    Raising Kids

    Having a Fourth Baby: 9 Things to Consider First

    Our adorable fourth baby is now three months old. She joined a brother and two sisters, all under the age of seven. The next oldest child was just shy of two years old when she was born. People are often curious to know what it’s like to have four kids. Well, in short, it’s tiring and busy and loud and really messy. There is always someone who needs me, which is both exhausting and life-affirming. I would never trade a single one of my children for the world, but having a fourth baby is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Here are some issues to consider before you…

  • Mom sitting with two children
    Raising Kids

    5 Communication Techniques to Connect with Your Child

    My two-year-old has a new phrase: “Mommy, where are you?” She often says this while I am standing right in front of her. I think, sometimes, it’s innocent enough. She just needs me for something and is trying to get my attention. But it has me thinking about how often I am physically present, but not actually there.  If you, like me, want to have more meaningful interactions with your kids, here are some simple communication strategies you can try out. Make eye contact Moms are great multitaskers. While your child is chattering away, you might be looking at the dishes, the baby, or your phone. Try turning away and looking…

  • Toddler pulling a wagon
    Raising Kids

    How to Get Your Toddler to Listen: 25 Tactics to Try

    How to get your toddler to listen. Is this a riddle? Or a joke? Toddlers are notoriously terrible listeners. Well, maybe that’s not quite right. They listen to what you’re saying, but they just don’t cooperate easily! Trying to get my two-year-old to do what I am asking of her can feel like engaging in serious negotiation with a terrorist. However, three toddlers in, I have found some techniques that seem to work. Sometimes, I have to try tactic after tactic, and one will finally stick. Keep this list handy the next time you need your toddler to do something important… like, put on his shoes or finish his peanut butter…

  • Kids playing on an outdoor toy
    Raising Kids

    10 Wonderful Outdoor Toys Your Kids Need to Have

    As a mom of four kids, having a fenced-in backyard fun zone full of outdoor toys for kids is a lifesaver. I need a space outside the house for my kids to stay occupied and play together, without having to keep track of everyone at a park. To be honest, it’s a bonus if they will play independently, allowing me to keep an eye on them while accomplishing other things. Over the years, we have gathered a collection of fun outdoor toys for kids that entertain ages toddler through grade school. Here is a list of outdoor toys for kids that have provided hours of backyard fun for my family.…

  • Items sick people use
    Raising Kids

    Fight the Crud: 5 Habits for Healthy Kids

    It’s like slow motion. A kid’s nose wrinkles. She sniffs. Her mouth opens. A sneeze is coming. And you know what might happen if that sneeze leads to a bad cold—weeks of nursing one kid after another and yourself back to health. Days missed from school. Days missed from work. Heaps of tissues and a huge dose of misery. You throw your whole body in front of any other kids around you like a human shield to avoid the wrath of the sneeze. This is one of the downsides of having a large family. If one person gets sick, it might be a months-long ordeal as the germs have a field day,…

  • Woman carrying baby in wrap
    Raising Kids

    Four Essential Tools to Survive Baby Number 4

    Baby number 4 was born nearly three months ago. She joined a rowdy crew of kids under seven years old. Our third child was not even two when she was born, and as many a stranger has pointed out, we have our hands full. Babies born later in a large family have to go along for the ride—that is, to all kinds of dropoffs, pickups, and events that their older siblings are involved in. They are also at the mercy of a mom who is keeping track of an almost impossible amount of other tasks and needs. Thankfully, several tools have come in handy to make our experience a bit more…