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

    10 Surefire 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.

    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…

  • Coffee and iPad displaying online shopping tips
    Money Matters

    Online Shopping Tips to Save Money on your Holiday List

    Before you start your holiday shopping, do you know all the online shopping tips you need to save money? I do not get into the whole in-person holiday shopping scene. It’s busy and overwhelming and cold. There’s pressure to make decisions, and the items I want may or may not be in stock. I’d rather shop from the comfort of home and wait for my packages to arrive conveniently on my doorstep. It seems I’m not alone in this approach. Adobe reported that last year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest spending day in U.S. history, and a survey by Deloitte revealed that people were expecting to purchase more gifts online than…

  • Money Matters

    7 Lessons Learned in My First Month Blogging

    When I decided a month ago that I wanted to learn how to start a blog and make money, I had no idea how much I would have to learn! At the beginning of October, I found myself on a quest to figure out a way to make a little extra money each month. As I sifted through my search results and clicked link after link, a realization started to materialize: I can make money by blogging. Real money. Like, might not even have to work my day job after a while kind of money. And so I began a journey to figure out how to start a blog and make…

  • Mess of toys on the living room floor
    For Mom

    Small Kids Making Your House a Total Mess? Here’s Why That’s OK

    I have four kids, and I have to tell you… my life is a total mess. Although I do manage to get a daily shower, I hardly ever dry my hair or put on makeup anymore. My wardrobe mostly consists of leggings, sweats, and t-shirts (oftentimes oversized ones belonging to my husband). Usually, I eat my “meals” standing up. I have to remind myself to drink water (instead of coffee or wine) and eat fruits and vegetables, which I often steal off the kids’ plates before I do the dishes. Our house is covered in dust, jelly, and discarded socks. It looks as though the playroom heaved its contents haphazardly all…

  • Wrapped gifts for two-year-old
    Gift Guides

    30+ Practical Gifts for Two-Year-Olds that Parents will Appreciate

    When my kids’ birthdays and Christmas roll around, I try to take charge and create good solid wish lists that I make available to friends and family. These lists include practical items that I know the kid will need throughout the course of the year. Gift-givers often want to pick out the gift that’s going to be the most fun or exciting for the child, and I understand that. But two-year-olds can get just as excited over practical gifts as they do over toys. And if you give a practical gift to a two-year-old, you are likely to make the parents extra happy as well! Here is a list of practical gifts…

  • 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…

  • Kids experiencing a little moment of joy
    For Mom

    Capturing Little Moments of Joy in a Tiring Season of Life

    Tonight, at the end of a particularly trying day parenting four kids under the age of 7, I find myself reflecting on a paradox of motherhood. These are the moments that older parents look back on fondly, that strangers warn that young parents will miss one day. And yet, I am too exhausted or overwhelmed to notice much of anything but the messes my toddler keeps making behind me, the bickering between my oldest two, and the baby’s hungry cries while I reach over dirty dishes to heat her bottle. Everywhere I turn, there is something to be done and someone who needs me. It is so tiring, it hurts.…

  • 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…

  • New mom holding baby
    For Mom

    8 Truths Every New Mom Needs to Hear

    I have four kids, and I honestly think the hardest transition was going from zero kids to one. If you are a brand-new mom, stumbling through those first hazy months, here are some messages for you from the other side. You don’t have to know how to do everything. I went through a phase after my first baby was born when I was just running through the list of all the things she was going to need to learn to do or that she was going to experience in her life, and I felt like I needed to be prepared for every single one right then! In reality, you learn…

  • Woman on her cell phone
    For Mom

    How to Cure Phone Addiction: One Mom’s Quest

    I have a confession to make: I have a slight addiction to my phone. I am home on maternity leave and have been realizing how much time my phone steals away from my kids each day. Granted, I have four children under the age of seven, and I’m sure you can’t blame me for wanting to escape down a digital rabbit hole from time to time. But I think I may be escaping a little too frequently. Effects of phone addiction I’ve started reflecting on how my preoccupation with my phone is affecting my life. I’ve found that it can make me irritable (particularly if I’m interrupted), and also likely to…

  • Mom holding new baby
    For Mom

    It’s Fine to Feed Your Baby Formula

    I’m writing this post for my past self. Almost seven years ago, I had just given birth to my first baby, and I was a hot mess. I am a planner, a problem-solver. I had spent nine months devouring parenting books and websites, buying cloth diapers, and studying natural childbirth. I was going to crush this parenting thing. And of course, I was going to breastfeed my baby instead of feeding her formula. Why wouldn’t I? Breastfeeding was free, all-natural, and best for my baby. And then my child was born. I was completely exhausted from hours and hours of labor and childbirth (which, by the way, ended up involving…

  • Toddler pulling a wagon
    Raising Kids

    25 Ways to Quickly Get Your Toddler to Listen

    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…

  • Money Matters

    How to Use Rakuten (Ebates) to Easily Earn Hundreds of Dollars

    Update Nov. 2019: Ebates is now called Rakuten. This article has been updated to reflect the name change. Read more here. When my mom first told me how to use Rakuten (Ebates), I was skeptical. Surely there was some kind of catch. How was she earning money, completely for free, just by doing her regular online shopping? But when she sent me an Rakuten (Ebates) invitation link that came along with a free gift card, I figured I could trust her enough to give it a try. Sure enough, I received a $10 gift card to Kohl’s plus cash back after making my first Rakuten (Ebates) qualifying purchase. I was…

  • 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.…