Hello, Kansas City! We’re on our way through January, and some of us are still recovering the craziness of the holiday season. January offers a lot of motivation to start the year off on a good foot, but also gives us all an opportunity to wind down from the previous season. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, shares her low-key, free, and easy remedy to renew yourself and spend some time with the family. Check it out!
Check Out This Easy Way to Wind Down from the Holidays
After a month of marathon shopping, cleaning, cooking and hosting duties, I said farewell to my final group of holiday visitors Sunday morning and spent the rest of the day sick in bed. At first, I was so frustrated. Feeling ill was not how wanted to finish off my weekend. Around noon, my eldest daughter came in to check on me and asked if I’d like to watch a movie. I agreed and we spent the rest of the day in bed burning through Netflix and munching on crackers. She told me it was the best day and I had to agree.
The funny thing about the holidays, is that I ran myself ragged for my family and spent a lot of time with extended family, but my kids and I did not get much one-on-one time. It’s ironic really, that we spend so much time making the holidays magical for our kids, but we may just be missing the mark.
After weeks of parties and gifts and playdates, my daughter’s favorite thing was hanging out and watching movies with me. Now I’m sure a part of that was in its uniqueness. A nagging part of my mom brain worried about screen time several times, but I let it go and I’m glad I did. It was a really fun day and one that didn’t cost a thing.
It reminded me of another thought I had the other day. My mom was commenting on how quickly time goes by, and it does- for adults anyway. Commenting on the speed of time is one of my mother’s favorite things to note and in agreeing with her now, I remembered that I didn’t always. I remember when I was a kid and the days seemed long and a school year felt like forever. In the hustle and bustle of getting through our weeks and months- we may be once again missing something.
Perhaps kid years are a bit like dog years in that there’s less to mark time and so they’re just on a different scale. Maybe when I think to myself ‘twice a month I have this moment with my child and that is a lot,’ really isn’t true. It’s certainly something to consider. And I hope to find more time in my schedule for lazy hang outs and focusing completely on my time with my kids. Apparently, those are our best days.
Christmas Eve is upon us here in the metro area and, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably frantically getting in those last minute errands that you’ve been putting off forgotten about, baking holiday treats, and cleaning the house in anticipation of loved ones later this evening (or in my case, first thing tomorrow morning). It’s okay, we can all be superheroes from time to time, right?! Don’t stress out, it’s all going to be fine…right? RIGHT? Thankfully, our very own iFamilyKC Mom Squad team member Leah shares her 25 tips for managing holiday stress with us right here on the blog. Take a look…
25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress
If you are anything like me you are guilty of trying to do a thousand things at once. I find myself being pulled between trying to locate the “perfect gift”, attempting to stay on budget, pull money out of thin air, working more hours to afford “the perfect gift”, ordering things online, and trying to create time to wrap gifts all while trying to balance my daily tasks. Needless to say this momma is wore out.
The holidays tend to add so much stress and chaos to our already over packed lives. Yet, their intention is to the opposite. This year I am determined to approach things differently. I don’t want my son to judge holidays based around how well I may or may not handle stress. We all know that kids see everything even when we think otherwise. I want to make sure he sees me handle things with grace. After all I cannot expect him to if I don’t.
It really is my goal to learn how to master stress so it does not master me. I know that I will not be able to completely avoid stress. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot try to handle it better when it arrives. I have found some pretty simple ways to help make your holidays a little less hectic. I hope that you can find one or two them useful.
#1 Take an Epson Salt bath – for an added stress relief add essential oils
#2 Create a daily gratitude journal- use this to remind yourself what you are grateful for in yourself and others
#3 Go outside for a walk or run- being around the sunlight can improve your mood
#4 Instead of stressing out over dinner give yourself permission to order out
#5 Turn on some good music
#6 Have a glass of wine
#7 Have a cup of tea- there are so many teas out there to help you relax
#8 Give your partner a massage then have them return the favor ( or just book an appointment at a salon)
#9 Go get your hair done… I always feel better after a good hair cut
#10 Set a budget and stick with it
#11 Schedule a lunch date with a friend and share a good laugh
#12 Turn off your phone so you can get stuff done without being distracted
#13 Try to give out “group gifts” when you have to buy for a family. This will help you stay on budget. You can buy them a movie, popcorn, snacks, etc. Plus this encourages them to do something as a family.
#14 Pace yourself- you do not have to do everything in one day. I find it useful to break my to do list down to a daily list instead. This also helps me feel less overwhelmed.
#15 Take a break and go do something fun as family
#16 Go see some Christmas lights and get yourself back into the Christmas spirit
#17 Light some candles around the house
#18 Meditate – this is an amazing stress reliever
#19 Go to the gym
#20 Call a friend or a family member that puts you in a good mood
#21 Get some sleep
#22 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
#23 Don’t sweat the small stuff
#24 Remind yourself that if something does not get done there is always tomorrow
#25 Listen to yourself- only you know your limits
To follow Leah further please go to her page at www.facebook.com/solaceforthesoul
Good Morning, Kansas City! We here at iFamilyKC hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. As we all prepare for the upcoming festivities that December brings, a lot of us probably have fun family traditions that we take part in. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, shares one of her favorite holiday memories: A Holiday Candy party! Take a look…
Building Holiday Traditions: A Holiday Candy Party
My favorite holiday memory has to be of my families’ annual Christmas “Candy” party. To me it was truly what the holiday should and were all about. To start at the beginning we have to travel back in time over three decades to the very first party. Imagine a cold December night, where we used the front porch as a fridge because we needed extra space. The house was a little smaller but there were people packed in from the tree in front to the back of the kitchen. I can’t remember too many specifics (I was only a month old and spent most of the night being rocked to sleep!) but laughter and holiday spirit was everywhere. Every year after this the same core group of people would come together to make their candy. After the first few years everyone started to rely on the faithful candy that was easy, as the years rolled on the candy “screw-ups” (and this is the cleaned up version) became more common.
From my perspective, I just got to play with all my “brothers and sisters” run through the house stopping only to sneak a piece of warm candy. See these people who came into my house every year, shared in our Christmas spirit and gave us the gift of true friendship were so much more than friends. They are my second family, my substitute parents.
I am much older now and plan on attending my 35th annual candy party. My families’ house may be a little older too, and now my kids run through the house and sneak treats. My family; their hair may have turned a little grayer and the bodies are fighting battles that only they can see and they hide pain by putting on a smile. The best part is we are all together—every year without fail. They are my family and the only people that I can think of sharing Christmas with—and I would even say that without the candy!
The holidays are such a great time for reflection — whether it’s on remembering what you’re grateful, reflecting on memories, or thinking about loved ones that are no longer with us, it’s a moment to pause and invest in this beautiful life. Our Mom Squad Ambassador has a beautiful piece reflecting on Thanksgiving with her grandmother and what still sticks with her. Take a look…
Holiday Reflection: Thanksgiving with Grandma
Growing up, Thanksgiving was always very special. My late grandmother who was like my best friend would always let me help in the kitchen. She would teach me her secrets to pie pinching, making her delicious sweet potatoes and even let me help “clean the turkey”.
One of my most fond memories for this time of year were us baking together. We would make pies, cookies, rollie polies, and other baked goods. I loved making the pies and rollie polies with her. I would roll the dough out as even as I could, place it gently in the pan and try very, very hard to fix all the cracks I had made lol. When our pies were all done and in the oven, we would move on to the next best thing! Making rollie pollies! Ahhh one of my favorites! My dear grandmother would let me roll the remaining dough out once more, and then the fun would really begin! I remember taking a stick of butter and covering the entire area of dough with it! I would always try to touch it because it looked so slippery and gooey! Once we finished with the butter we would sprinkle what is in my opinion one of THEE best smells ever, cinnamon and sugar. We would cover the dough with handfuls of the sweet mixture and then roll it up! I remember after we had rolled the dough into one long log, she would hold my hand and guide me to cut even pieces. I was so excited to make all of it… every year! Also, she would always let me “taste” our baking creations!
Once we were all done baking and the food was finishing its last 45 minutes of cook time, I would the “grown up table”. I LOVED setting the table, my grandparents had this beautiful gold set of cutlery. Every time she would open it (it was in a special trunk) I would feel like I was setting the table for royalty! She would get out the nice glasses and table cloths too. I remember her showing me how to place the lace covering on the table just perfectly. My cousins and I would always do our very best to make it as neat and clean as possible!
Once the food was cooked, we would all set the dishes and bowls on the table, take our seat and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Even though I didn’t get to sit at the “grown up table” I would always look over to see everyone’s reaction to all the food we had made.
Even though this year won’t be the same since she passed last December, I try to think of the positives. All the things she taught me, all the traditions we had, I can now do with my daughters this Thanksgiving. I can teach them how to set the special table, how to bake our family favorites and so on. And even though these are just memories, they all make Thanksgiving even more special.
Happy Sunday, Kansas City! Can you all even believe it? It’s time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It sure sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, is kicking off the holiday season here at iFKC with a fun little observance, if you will, of how men and women handle the holidays differently. Take a look…
How Men & Women Survive the Holidays—Together
It is November, can you believe it!? I guess we can officially say that the start to the Holidays is here. I can almost taste the pumpkin pie, see the turkey on the table, feel the pine needles on the tree and smell the cinnamon in my Home for the Holidays candle. But why is it that I can do this and my husband can’t? Well, it’s not that he can’t but to him the holidays mean something completely different. This is all due to the wiring in our brains where we can look at one thing but remember and explain it in two entirely different ways. I read a book, actually two books and an article on the subject; I was so excited to explain the things going on around me I just have to share it! While reading three things by no means makes me an expert– please take this for what it is worth. So here we go—the chemical explanation of the male and female brains and how we will survive the holidays with our significant others!
To begin, I promised my iFamily that I would leave the stereotypes out of this article. That doesn’t mean I am not saying them out loud, while I type, and no reason why you all shouldn’t be nodding your head and saying them to yourselves as well!
Let’s begin at the beginning then. Men and Women were different from the start; men were more the hunters, women more the gatherers. This continues to a point (enter Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus) although dated and filled with stereotypes, there really is a very good explanation to this division of labor, and why most women and men fall into these groups: CHEMISTRY!
Bringing this back to the holidays, let’s look at the first weeks of November. This is when planning for the big meal starts to happen, who will be invited this year and where they will sit. How many place settings do we need and who should bring what? Women’s brains have significantly more white matter, the interconnectedness of everything, so we handle these first few weeks at a rapid pace while multitasking on our everyday activities. The male brain has more gray matter than women’s brains. Gray matter, or the information processors of the brain, is why men will look at these activities and file them away for closer to the event, they are going to take each task and focus intently on it.
So now let’s have a little role play to illustrate these facts above. Feel free to ask your significant other to play the other part!
Scene: It is the day before Thanksgiving; the turkey is bought and defrosting, everything seems to be in its place and planned down to the last place setting. But wait! There is a last minute problem!
Woman: Panic! The table and chair arrangement is not going to work! It will put my sister and husband’s brother right next to each other and last year they fought about politics the whole meal! Stop! Couple things to point out here when we go back to our old friend, chemistry; first of all; stress, but we will get to that later. Most of all, I want to point out the memory from last year; key to women. The wiring in their brains have more connections with memories and feelings. They remember they didn’t like how they felt when sister and brother-in-law fought and a little file was put into one of those connections to keep them away from each other whenever possible. Okay continue.
Woman: Man, would you mind rearranging the table so that these two aren’t sitting together?
Woman: Because last year they sat by each other and fought the entire time about politics—this year could be worse! Don’t you remember? (See above, what we know about men’s brains is that he may not remember, or if he does it probably won’t be from an emotional standpoint).
Man: Sure, I will take care of it. Still sitting in his chair
Woman: DO IT NOW!!! I have so much to do and you are just sitting there!
Okay, so our little scenario above, I KNOW has happened in every household at one point in time. But once again I refer back to chemistry. It very well could be that the man is not just sitting there, but actually planning and plotting how to move the table or position the chairs just right. Because of that gray matter that men have it tends to lead to tunnel vision. At this moment he is engulfed in something, but in a few minutes he will get to the solving of this problem. Women, because of that white matter we would tend to go ahead and start on the place settings to just get it done. When woman above asked him to do the task, she needed to also say that she would like that done before she could do something else, indicating that she would like it done quickly. Both ways come out to the same result but only one way helps to keep the stress level down come T-Day.
Getting to stress, it will happen around the holidays, but the way that men and women will respond is going to be very different. And for that matter the way that we need to respond to our significant others when they are stressed is different as well. Our brains produce many neuro-chemicals including serotonin, testosterone, estrogen, and oxytocin. Women’s brains tend to handle stress by emotion and like to be around other people for support. This is because of how we process the estrogen and oxytocin; a bonding and relationship chemical. Men’s brains will likely handle stress by going to the gym, getting up and taking a walk or in some cases raising their voice. Male brains process less oxytocin and more testosterone which makes them more impulsive or aggressive. So how do we handle it? When you see yourself or your partner getting stressed, offer to take over a few things while they go for a walk or take a warm bath, or sometimes just offering up a hug is all it will take to diffuse the situation.
I know that everyone doesn’t need another thing to think about this year and making sure that you aren’t arguing with your spouse is probably near the bottom. But if we take a step back and think that maybe it is the wiring in our brains which make us act and say the things we do; it will cause a little less friction. Also, when you are watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation this year, make a game of how many times you can point out a “man-brain” or “woman-brain” action—there are plenty!
Hello, Kansas City! Dinner can be tough for a family. Particularly trying to find recipes and foods that make even the pickiest eaters happy. Luckily, our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, has some great ideas to add some life to your dinner and hopefully please the entire pack. Check it out!
8 Ways to Plan a Simple & Healthy Dinner for Your Family
My children have to be the pickiest eaters on the planet! Planning dinner is not the easiest chore in my house at all. I thought I’d share some easy kid-friendly dinner ideas that just might please the pickiest of eaters in your household. I think dinner should be an enjoyable time for the whole family and hopefully these ideas will have your family clearing their plate and asking for seconds!
Simple, separated and balanced meals.
A lot of kids may not like casseroles yet because of different foods being mixed together. I would suggest possibly separating out the foods before mixing all of the ingredients together. This avoids having to make another whole meal for the picky eater in the bunch.
Breakfast for dinner
Pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs, French toast! You could even have a waffle or pancake bar with different toppings for everyone to customize their own.
English muffin pizzas
SUPER simple and fun idea to get the kids involved in making dinner. Take an English muffin and top with sauce and cheese. Have a bunch of different veggies and meats cut up and cooked ready to add to the pizzas. Heat in the toaster oven or conventional oven for 10 minutes or so and you’re ready to eat!
Have an alternative choice
…but also put a small bite of the main meal on your child’s plate. We are all used to having choices when it comes to meals and kids are no different. They have a choice when they buy lunch at school or when we go to a restaurant. The alternative choice for dinner does NOT have to be something extremely difficult to prepare and you can teach your child to make it as well. My daughter’s favorite alternative meal when we have something she absolutely will not eat is chicken noodle soup and crackers.
Spaghetti or pasta dishes
Where you can easily hide vegetables. It’s really hard to get kids to eat vegetables a lot of times. This is a great way to sneak a few nutrients in their food without them even knowing! I think there is a whole cookbook out there somewhere about hiding vegetables in food.
Involve your children
Involve your children in the process of shopping, preparing and cooking food. Or enroll them in a kid’s cooking club. My daughter tried guacamole for the first time ever at her cooking club and now she LOVES it! All because she made it herself and was able to add the ingredients she wanted to add and knew exactly what was in it.
Recreate your child’s favorite restaurant food
If your child likes a certain food at fast food restaurants try to recreate that food at home. My daughter would NEVER eat a hamburger at home until I decided to make the patty thin and toast the bun like McDonald’s hamburgers. She loves them now!
Make food fun!
There are all kinds of ideas on Pinterest to make food shaped like animals, scenes, or holiday themes. You can be as simple as you like or get crazy creative with those ideas.
Do you have any ideas or recipes that your kids just LOVE? Feel free to share with us in the comments!
Happy Monday, Kansas City! Fall is a great time to get out and active with your family. From pumpkin patches to bonfires to the amazing weather, it’s hard to beat fall in Kansas City. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Leah, gives us some fantastic outdoor activities to enjoy altogether this fall.
33 Family Outdoor Activities to Do Together This Fall
My favorite time of the year is quickly approaching. There is something magical in seeing nature change all around you. I could spend hours outside during September – October. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing all the beautiful fall colors, going on hay rides, decorating pumpkins, and just embracing how beautiful the outdoors really are? My hope is that you take some time as a family and go outdoors. Whatever you do… just be in the moment. Put your phones down, check out of the virtual world for a few hours, and check back into your physical world. Taking time to recharge and to invest into you/ your family is worth it. Your Facebook world will still be there. However, this time with your kids will not. Get out there and laugh, throw some leaves around, get your hands dirty, and remind your kids what life was like before computers.
1) Have a Frisbee throwing contest. See who can throw it the furthest.
2) Grab a rope and have a good old fashion game of Tug Of War
3) Play a friendly game of Family Tag
4) Go to an apple orchard and pick apples together. Then come home and have an apple tasting. See which flavor of apples you each prefer.
5) Put up a net in the back yard and play volleyball. Invite the neighborhood kids over to join in.
6) Dust off your bikes and go for a family bike ride
7) Play Hide and Seek out doors
8) Bob for apples
9) Get out there and play football, kick ball, or soccer. Show the kids you still got it.
10) Fill up some water balloons, get out there, and get messy.
11) Have a potato sack race.
12) Rake up some leaves, make a pile, and then dive in.
13) Host a back yard picnic.
14) Get some sidewalk chalk and decorate your drive way. Or, leave your neighbors cute notes in side walk chalk on their drive way — telling them why you’re glad they’re your neighbors.
15) Plan a scavenger hunt.
16) Host a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and tell ghost stories.
17) Grab some leaves, glue, paint, and paper…. Then go at it.
18) Decorate rocks. You could paint them orange and make “pumpkins,” or white and make “ghosts” on them.
19) Make bird feeders, then sit back and watch the birds enjoy their dinner.
The first person passes the pumpkin over his/her head to the next person in line.
The next person passes the pumpkin under his/her legs to the next person, and so on.
When you get to the end of the line the last person runs up to the front and starts it all over again.
Whoever has the first person that was in line at the beginning of the game— in the back of the line wins.
30) Gourd Race
Set up start and turn around lines (about 10 feet apart) and divide children into equal teams.
At the signal, first players walk from starting line to turn-around line and back to the starting line while holding a spoon with a gourd on it. Child then hands it off to the next in line.
If the gourd falls off the spoon, players must stop and pick up the gourd with the spoon to continue.
Continue until each child has had a turn. With many children—have many lines.
31) Flashlight Tag
Playing flashlight tag in the fall is beneficial because you can get outside and play soon after dinner because of shorter days. The cool weather adds an element of fun. Designate a home base, and choose one person to be “it.” Give “it” a flashlight, and ask her to count to 50 while everyone hides. The “it” turns on the flashlight and searches for the other players as those players try to sneak back to home base. The first player tagged by the beam of “its” flashlight is the next “it.”
A variation on ring toss, ring the pumpkin is a game of throwing skill and a bit of luck. Put three or four large pumpkins with stems in a line on the ground. Depending on the age of your group, designate a throwing line four to eight feet away from the pumpkins. Using embroidery hoops or small rings, players take turns throwing the ring at the pumpkin’s stem. The player who rings the most wins. Use hula hoops as a variation, but ring the entire pumpkin.
Capture the flag involves a lot of running. When you play this game in the fall, you are often able to play it for longer because of cooler weather. Divide the group into two teams, and designate an area of your yard for each team, with a neutral space in between. Give each team a flag, and tell the teams to hide the flag in their area. Once hidden, both teams begin searching for the opponent’s flag. If a player is caught in another team’s territory, he is put in “jail” until one of his teammates frees him by touching him. The team that finds the flag first wins.
Hellooooo, October! (And Kansas City!) It’s fall! It’s really fall! And our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, has some great ideas for family fun in October. Pick a couple for your family to experience this weekend. Enjoy!
31 Fun Family Activities for October
Despite the sweltering heat it is officially fall! Hopefully cooler weather is on the horizon and here are some activities you and you family can be enjoying all month long.
#1 Have a bonfire
– Hanging around the fire is a staple of Midwest fall nights. A fire pit will do, or perhaps you can tack this on to a visit to the pumpkin patch or farm.
#2 Play in the leaves
– They’ll be everywhere soon. Before the allure wears off and the damp sets in, roll, jump, play in, and compare all the leaves you can find. There are a lot of art projects you can do with leaves too.
#3 Decorate pumpkins
– There are a million and one things to do with pumpkins. We have littles at our house so we usually paint some early on in the month and help Dad carve one closer to Halloween. Don’t forget to roast your seeds if you carve. A yummy and healthy treat!
#4 Go apple picking
– There are apple orchards all around KC so it’s not hard to find a spot to do this. Check out my earlier article with tips for while you’re there.
#5 Eat caramel apples
– You can buy or make them. Extra points if you use ones you’ve freshly picked. You can melt caramels, or find a healthier alternative. There are various recipes online. Don’t forget to have fun decorating with sprinkles, candies, nuts, chocolates, toasted coconut… the possibilities are endless.
#6 Hit up your local farmer’s market
– There are markets in nearly every city. They will be winding down soon and we will have to wait until spring to visit again. They will be brimming with squashes, apples, pears, mushrooms and cabbages.
#7 Star gazing
– You can probably do this in your own backyard! If not, head to the country where there’s less lights or an observatory. There are two public observatories in the area.
#8 Wildflower picking
– Remember how excited we all were when flowers showed up this spring? Well they’ll be on their way out soon. Get outside for a nice walk and be sure to pick a bouquet to enjoy when you get back home.
#9 Go on a picnic
– We love picnics at our house. Sometimes they happen in our yard, sometimes at the park, but eating outside is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy a meal.
#10 Tell ghost stories
– You can gauge what your kids can handle, but sharing spooky stories is another classic October pastime. Our kids enjoy passing around the flashlight to hold under their chin while they tell silly ghost stories.
#11 Check out a festival
– There are so so so many festivals going on this month, I could have written 31 festivals to go to. Gladfest, Weston Applefest, and any Oktoberfest are among my favorites. There are a ton of art festivals going on too. These are a great way to connect with your community and there is something going on every weekend.
– Everyone needs s’more s’mores. Make ‘em on a fire or in the kitchen, but enjoy these ooey gooey treats.
#13 Camp out
– I am not a camper. My husband totally is, so this falls under his jurisdiction. You can go on a weekend trip somewhere, or set up a tent in the yard, or heck even the living room. I’ll be in the house drinking wine.
#14 Go to the pumpkin patch
– Is the pumpkin patch optional this time of year? I’m under the assumption that it isn’t. We have covered many local places, so please check out our other posts for inspiration and information.
#15 Make some art
– Making art is easy and free around here. You can always create something at home, or you can make an outing of it. Nelson-Atkins has free workshops every weekend. Kaleidoscope is a free and popular option too.
#16 Plan a murder mystery party with your friends
– Ok, I’m planning a murder mystery with friends. I think it’s a fun idea. For a smaller scale activity, you can play werewolf or Clue.
#17 Root, root, root for the home team
– Going to college and pro-athletics is always a fun time, but can be pricy or difficult. Even though we don’t know any one at the high school, we still enjoy going to our local schools’ games. They are fun and usually cheap and our kids enjoy seeing the older kids.
#18 Watch Hocus Pocus
– Hocus Pocus is my favorite Halloween movie, but there are so many good ones. Pick one and have a movie night.
#19 Engage in a little DIY
– Fall is a good time to get some of those outdoor or home projects done before the winter. Paint a room, make a craft, and enlist the kids as helpers.
#20 Get some BBQ
– The American Royal World Series of Barbeque is at the end of the month. Your family can declare their own winner by trying out a few different restaurants or recipes this month.
#21 Make a costume
– Make a Halloween costume or even just play a little dress up with the kids.
– Can’t tailgate every weekend? Host a get-together to watch the Chiefs. Have everyone bring his or her favorite sports-viewing snack.
#26 Square dance
– You may be able to find a proper square dance to take part in. If so- let me know! Or, you could do our version and dosey-doe in the living room. Take turns being the leader yelling out moves.
#27 Shadow puppets
– My grandparents gave me a book showing how to make shadow puppets as a kid. My children found it a couple years ago and they love it. Take advantage of the earlier sunsets and have a shadow show before bed.
#28 Watch a movie under the stars
– Drive-ins are always a lot of fun, and now that the weather is cooling, they’re even better. There are also Movies in Park, or maybe you can project a show in your own yard.
#29 Play some outdoor sports
– Remember how nice it was when the kids were go straight to sleep, exhausted from swimming all day? Well, it’s time to find a new way to wear them out. Soccer, football, baseball… have a friendly game at the park.
#30 Make a fairy house
– Design and build a fairy house to decorate your garden.
Ahh, dinner time. I think we all have images of coming home, preparing a perfect meal, and having our equally perfect children instantly love what we’ve made. Unfortunately, that is rarely, if ever, real life. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky has some great tips for ways to “cheat dinner,” and they are an absolute win! Take a look…
How You Can Cheat Dinner and Win for the Whole Family
When you work full time and your spouse works full time and you’ve got multiple childcare pickups, sometimes things just have to give at the end of the day. In our house, sometimes that “thing” is dinner.
I actually really like to cook and do so regularly, so most days I’m covered. BUT, if I don’t have a real plan of what to make for dinner when we all get home, and the crew turns hangry before I figure it out—IT’S ALL OVER. Like code red, nuclear meltdown, Gizmo to Gremlins, call a priest, OVER.
It sounds so easy (and frankly, wonderful) to hit the drive-thru on these types of nights, but I know it’s not a healthy choice nor a good example to set for my own kids. Therefore, out of pure survival, I’ve come up with these last-minute dinner ideas that continue to save my family time and time again. If you’ve got your own, I beg you to share them.
The Rotisserie Chicken Dinner
If you’re only buying Rotisserie chicken the night you need it, you’re doing it all wrong. Buy one and store it in the fridge for later in the week to quickly and easily throw together chicken quesadillas, pulled-chicken sandwiches, chicken and pasta, chicken with rice, or just straight up cold drumsticks.
Pro Tip: Try to use your rotisserie chicken the day before your trash day so you can immediately dispose of the carnage the next morning.
The Picnic Dinner
I’m just waiting for the day when my kids call me out for phoning in dinner on this one, but in the meantime they think our “picnic dinners” are so fun. It’s basically a collection of snacks like pretzels, cheese cubes, baby carrots, grapes, salami, crackers and baby dill pickles.
Pro Tip: To help disguise this dinner cheat, eat out on your deck or take the meal to a park.
The Build-Your-Own-Pizza Dinner
This sounds like a lot of work but, I promise, the key is start with already-baked flat bread. Add spaghetti sauce (pizza sauce if you’re fancy), shredded mozzarella cheese and pepperonis. My kids love getting to build their own pizza and I love it because they are doing the meal prep for me, while I’m digging through the refrigerator to see if we have any ingredients to throw together a salad.
Pro Tip: Naan bread works great for this, too. I always keep a package in our freezer.
The Panini Dinner
I might get some grumpy faces if I try and pass off a plain ham and cheese sandwich as dinner, but a hot ham and cheese panini is always a hit. Those toasted panini grooves magically step up a last-minute meal instantly. Grab a variety pack of deli meats and a variety pack of cheese slices, and you’ve got all the combos to please everyone.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have panini grill, use your waffle maker.
The Breakfast-for-Dinner Dinner
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. GET. ON. BOARD. There are few things easier to whip up than toast, scrambled eggs and some fruit. You’ll see bacon in the photo, I don’t even know what deep corner of our fridge that came from—we never have bacon. But we usually have slices of ham, which I’ll heat up and serve with the eggs. French toast with sliced bananas and/or strawberries is also a popular dinner menu at our house.
Pro Tip: Smoothies not only help convince your family that you had this meal planned for days, but are also a great way to make use of fruit and veggies before they go bad.
And finally ….
The Chipotle Dinner
Yep, that’s right. Who do you think I am? Super mom? If I am, this one is my secret weapon.
We all like to think that summer will mean relaxing, lazy days, but unfortunately, it usually turns out to be busier than during the school year! Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Stephanie, is choosing to make time for some family fun this month, and she’s sharing her journey below. Take a look…
How to Make Time for Family Fun in the Summer
If your summer is anything like mine, you are incredibly busy. Between my work schedule, kid’s activities and school, it’s nuts! Each week, we’ve been trying to take a day to just be together as a family, no work, no school, just fun!
Last week, my husband and I decided take the kids out to lunch followed by some bowling. We are all about trying new restaurants and new foods, and settled on Winstead’s for lunch. We’ve driven past the restaurant a lot lately and kept talking about wanting to try it, so we took the kiddos and loved it! We all got some yummy cheeseburgers and fries, followed by a huge ice cream sundae to share, before heading to the bowling alley near our house.
We’ve taken the kids bowling before and we always get a little bit competitive (OK, maybe more than a little bit). The bowling alley has a great ramp for the little ones to use, as well as the bumpers so they can actually knock some pins down. We spent about an hour there and the kids had a blast, except for when I may or may not have mentioned that I won (whoops!) We had to have a little discussion about being happy for others when they do something good, even when you are bummed you didn’t win.
Overall, it was a really fun day and I can’t wait to see what our next family adventure will be. We’ve got some plans for the splash pads and water parks in the area, as well as going to see some movies to help us stay cool with the hot temperatures. Stay cool, friends!