Parenting

An Organized Playroom

photo by @daen_2chinda on unsplash

Does your home have a designated playroom for the kiddos? Is it actually functioning as a room the kids can play in, or is it so full and cluttered that it’s more of a toy storage room? If your playroom fills you with dread, it’s time to get it organized and decluttered. With these tips and tricks, this room can be transformed into a space both you and the kids actually enjoy!

Clear the Room

This may be the most tedious part of your playroom revamp, but it will start your space with a clean slate. Go through all the toys, games, books, art supplies, and furniture. Donate items no longer used or that have been outgrown; toss or recycle broken, unsafe, or incomplete items. If your kids are loathe to say goodbye to any of their things, it would be best to do the first pass when they’re asleep or out of the house. Enlist the kids to help with the second pass. Be mindful of not accidentally getting rid of something beloved.

Group Items Together

If you have small or big piles of items—such as doll clothes, building sets, Zoobles, Hot Wheels, Polly Pockets—group them together so you can see how much space you’ll need to store them. Boxed items such as games and puzzles can be stacked on shelves. If your kiddo is super into something and they’ve got a lot of those items, like Barbies or LEGOs, consider setting up a corner for that particular interest. For instance, the Barbie house or LEGO table would be in the corner, along with small labeled bins to store related items.

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When Your College Kid Is Home for the Summer

The stacks of boxes and bins, bags of clothes and bedding, and random loose items like lamps and rolled-up posters can mean only one thing: your college kid just got home for summer break! While parents (and maybe the siblings) are thrilled to have all their chicks back in the nest for three months, there is a new family dynamic that will definitely take some getting used to. Your “child” has now experienced nine months of independent living, and any expectations that this summer will be like their high school summers may be quickly dashed.

It’s a new normal in your parent-child relationship—and it is definitely on the positive side. Your student is a young adult now, even if they still have “-teen” as part of their age. They’ve experienced huge personal growth and will likely not be the same person they were last September. Their sense of independence is high right now, and you need to respect that. That being said, they will be living in your home, and they need to respect that. Here are our tips on finding a balance and making this transition smoother for everyone.

Give Them 48 Hours to Decompress

Empathize with them about finals being exhausting, packing and cleaning their place being a pain, and not seeing their college friends all summer being a bummer. Let them sleep in till noon, raid the kitchen, and not unpack or do laundry. For 48 hours. Then give them a good, strong nudge to put away all their stuff and ease themselves into the rhythms of home.

Talk About Expectations

Don’t expect that they’ll be home for dinner every night, or that they’ll be up early having breakfast with you. Assuming they are working, volunteering, or interning during the summer, they will be setting their own schedules. College kids don’t necessarily adhere to a daily routine that you may think makes sense, but if it works for them, let them do it. Clarify that it’s not your job to wake them up to go to work. If they stayed up till 3am bingeing Netflix and slept through their alarm, their being late for work is not your emergency. It’s tough love, but if they expect to be given freedoms then they should be accountable for their schedules.

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15 Summer Essentials to Keep in Your Car

Summer is the best season for spontaneous good times in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The greater Seattle area has a wealth of unique and amazing places to discover, whether you’ve got a detailed day planned out, or you’re going to meander through a park or neighborhood. Keep those spur-of-the-moment trips carefree (and less stressful) by keeping these essentials in your car. More time for sun and fun, and less time running to the store or looking for things.

  1. Sunglasses: Keeping a couple of pairs doesn’t hurt, because someone will always forget theirs.
  2. Sun hat: Keep cool. Sunstroke and a sunburned forehead are not fun.
  3. Sunblock: Protect your skin. Beware of the expiration date and note that sunscreen may degrade faster if kept in a hot car for a long time.
  4. A beach towel: Always handy to wipe off dirty children (or pets), or to be used as a makeshift blanket.
  5. A sweatshirt: Weather can be unpredictable and the nights cool off quickly!
  6. An outdoor blanket: Can be used for picnics, the beach, and to keep warm after the sun goes down.
  7. Reusable shopping bags: They are not just for the grocery store or a stop at a farmer’s market. You can use reusable shopping totes to haul beach toys (anything really) in a pinch. Include an insulated bag for even more versatility.
  8. A BPA-free water bottle and a non-melting snack: Disposable water bottles shouldn’t be stored in a hot car as they can release dangerous chemicals into the water. Granola bars, nuts, or crackers are examples of healthy non-melting snacks.
  9. The Discover Pass: The $35 annual pass allows you access to state parks for two vehicles.
  10. An extra pair of shoes and socks: A hike with children may turn into a dip in a river…
  11. A small first aid kit: Always have some adhesive bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, and pain reliever. An instant ice pack is really handy for bumps and bruises.
  12. An activity book: A coloring book or Sudoku can help pass the time in the car. We also like to have playing cards.
  13. Toilet paper or flushable wipes: Love the hike, don’t love the facilities. Best be prepared. Also stops bloody noses.
  14. Hand sanitizer: See above.
  15. Feminine products: Just in case someone is caught off guard.
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Your Graduation Party Planning Guide

Do you have a kiddo graduating from high school or college soon? Congratulations! This is definitely something to celebrate—it’s a major milestone for you and your soon-to-be-grad. If you are considering throwing a graduation party but feel bogged down by the details, use our planning timeline and checklist. It will help you organize a fun event while keeping your frazzle-rating at a minimum.

Four Weeks Before the Party

  • First, set a date and time.
    • Make sure it works for your grad and your immediate family, as well as a few extra-special people that you or your grad would really like to attend.
    • If you can, find out from your grad’s circle of friends if anyone else may be having a graduation party. You may try to minimize conflicting party dates/times if there are other parties.
    • Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be the weekend of the graduation ceremony. In fact, it may be easier to do it a week or two after.
  • Next, decide on the location. Whether you do it at home or at a venue, both choices have their own sets of pros/cons.
    • Home considerations include space limitations, doing the shopping and cooking, set-up and clean-up, party rentals such as tents and tables/chairs, and possibly catering services.
    • Venue considerations include a higher budget, reservations and a deposit, minimal set-up/clean-up, limited menu options, and more rigid party hours.
  • Create Your Guest List.
    • Be sure to include your grad’s invitees: friends and their parents, teachers, coaches, tutors, bosses, the family they babysit for, etc.
    • Go ahead and invite friends and family who don’t live nearby. Even if they can’t make it, they can still send a card or present.
  • Send out the invitations. Evite or Paperless Post are both free and easy for sending electronic invitations.
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Self-Care Ideas for Mother’s Day and Beyond

The term “self-care” hit the mainstream a few years ago, though it still means different things to different people. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.” A clinician on Psychology Today refers to it as, “a huge part of what’s missing in the life of someone who’s busy and stressed”. But one of my favorite statements about self-care is from a New York Times piece that boldly declares, “Self-care is for anyone who wants it.” As a mom, I definitely want it! And with Mother’s Day coming up, there are so many ways to give yourself the self-care you need, want, and absolutely deserve. Go on, treat yourself.

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This Christmas, You Drive the Sleigh

Christmas gift

Aah, Christmas. Everyone’s favorite time of year, right? Well, yes, but for those of us (moms) responsible for all the planning, shopping, cooking, and entertaining, the holidays are not always the easiest time of year. It doesn’t have to be so. How about this year, you drive the sleigh?

Today I attended a workshop held my good friend and coach, Sheila Storrer. The topic for discussion was having the kind of holiday that we (moms) want to have.

We spent the morning talking about what’s important to us this season and how to get out of the “I should” which often leaves us frustrated and disappointed. Each of us created a plan for the month of December. I bet you are wishing that you could have been there. I wish you could have my friend. Because let me tell you, this workshop could not have come at a better time. While it’s officially not even December, all the women in attendance had lots to say about the weeks ahead. It was apparent that all the women in attendance care deeply for their children and they have the best intentions for their family’s holiday. Everyone wanted to make the holidays very special. But they also had some concerns.

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Streamlining the Morning Lunch Crunch

Streamlining the Morning Lunch Crunch

When my eldest daughter was in kindergarten, I was a class helper. She sat next to a sweet boy from Japan, whose lunches were a daily source of amazement and envy—from the kids, as well as me and the teacher! He had a three-piece stainless bento box, and each layer contained beautifully-prepared food that looked like it should be on display somewhere: sushi rice shaped into animals or cars; carrots or apples carved into rosettes or spirals; bits of dried seaweed carefully cut into whiskers, or grass, or decorative stripes; tiny bite-sized cookies in ethereal shapes and colors. I’d glance over to my kid’s turkey and provolone sandwich, banana, and goldfish crackers, and wondered if I should be making more of an effort.

Fast forward many years, and I can’t even do the math on how many school lunches I’ve packed for my three children. I never did make anything remotely close to that boy’s lunches; my need to sleep in a little later (we all know even that extra 15 minutes helps!) overruled my desire for Instagram-worthy lunches. I have, however, been able to streamline my routine so the lunch-making portion of my morning takes just minutes. The key thing is to do as much as you can the night before…crazy simple!

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Style Guide: Prepare Your Home for Baby’s Arrival

If you have a baby on the way, you should start preparing your house for the new family member in advance. In just a few months, you won’t have time to deal with your house, so it’s better to get this out of your way as soon as possible. Not only will you be able to prepare your home for your baby stress-free, but you’ll also be able to create a stylish, safe and healthy environment for your family.

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5 Simple Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms

Self-care is so important for all caregivers

Being a mom may be one of the best jobs in the whole world, but it’s definitely one of the hardest as well. Most often we are so preoccupied with our children that we completely forget to do something nice for ourselves and thus unwind all the accumulated stress. Unfortunately, lack of self-care not only has negative consequences on our health and general well-being, but on our children as well since they can feel our frustration and discontent. In order to help you be the best mom and still manage to take good care of yourself, we’ve prepared several simple self-care ideas for you to take a look at. Enjoy!

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Top Ten Dorm Room Must-Haves

College student dorm

My eldest child will be moving back to campus next month to start her sophomore year. Just over a year ago, we were up to our eyeballs in Pinterest and other websites with tips on what students need for their dorm rooms. First off, let me just say that, unless your kid is rooming with two friends and they have completely coordinated their color scheme and décor—or they’ve got a single room—there is no way their room will ever look like a Pinterest board!

A dorm room is going to be their home for nine months, so it should reflect their personality, be practical but comfortable, and not too cramped—a place they’ll sleep, study, eat, and socialize in. Most likely the university will provide the minimum: a bed, a desk, and a chair. Everything else is on you.

Here’s the “Top Ten” list of items that are beyond the basics (e.g., bedding).

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