Fall clean-up: 10 things to purge every fall.

Adding a fall clean – up routine to your year is a great way to get the house ready for the holidays with less stress.

Spring cleaning gets all the attention, but I don’t know anyone that has time to de clutter, organize, and deep clean their entire house each spring. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are easy things we could all work on in the fall to split the work load into something manageable.

In another post, we’ll talk about some things to organize in the fall, but today we’ll start out with some quick wins.

You don’t have to worry about making any of these areas perfect. Just grab a trash bag and donation box and try to get rid of as much as you can from each of the 10 spots. If your feeling like an over achiever, tackle the 2 bonus points.

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Fall kitchen decluttering

Spices and seasonings- Take all the spices, seasonings, and condiments out of the cabinet and give the shelves a quick cleaning. Before putting everything back, check all the expiration dates. I’m not hard core about throwing spices out on the marked date, but they lose potency after time, so its probably time to replace the pumpkin pie spice from 7 years ago.

Have a piece of paper handy to keep track of what needs to be replaced. You’ll be all set for holiday baking.

Freezer- Sometimes our freezer becomes a black hole where things go in and never come out. The fall is the perfect time to get it cleared out and ready for winter.

Bonus: If you have a little extra time, purge the pantry/food cabinet as well.

Fall closet de cluttering

Sandals and summer shoes- Be honest about what shoes were really worn this summer. Now is the time to donate or sell the others. The most effective way to tackle this is to remove ALL the shoes from the closet and then put back the ones that you wear. That also gives you a chance to wipe down the shelves or shoe organizer.

Swim wear- Fall is also a great time to purge the swim wear. I seem to add swimsuits and other cover ups, but never get rid of any. Why should I keep the extras around for another winter?

Bonus: Peek at the family’s winter coats and donate any that have been out grown or are no longer needed now before winter hits. Some one will be so great full you did this one.

Fall garage de cluttering

Toys- Any big toys the kids have out grown should be cleared out in the fall, before the holidays. Its the perfect time to donate them, and you don’t need to store them all winter if the kids will never use them again.

Garden tools and products- Clean – up, repair, and purge your garden supplies so they will be ready for you in the spring. Nothing kills my spring planting motivation faster than being ready to plant and finding everything a mess from the prior year.

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Fall living room de clutter

Magazines and books- Do a quick sweep and lighten the clutter by purging out dated magazines. Look for books you know you’ll never read again and pass them along to a new home. We both have books on our Christmas list every year. So fall is a great time to free up some space for them.

Throw blankets- At one point, I thought you could never have too many blankets around the living room. Then I kept adding new ones through purchases and gifts, and passed the saturation point. I didn’t realize how many there really were because we throw them in every corner. I was able to donate some, the rest we put in a basket so I can keep them under control.

Fall bedroom de clutter

Timer challenge- I feel like everyone gathers different kinds of clutter in the bed room, but that doesn’t mean we can’t address it. Set the timer on your cell phone or microwave for 15 minutes and try to find as many things as you can that can be removed.

Depending on the state of your bedroom, start with the floor, the flat surfaces (dresser top) or inside drawers. Our bedroom looks great on the surface, but I’ll be tackling my night stand drawers, you wouldn’t believe the mess hiding inside.

Fall bathroom declutter

Product purge- Chances are you you’ve got some beauty products that are never touched lurking in the bathroom. I’m definately guilty of trying out products, not liking them, but not wanting to get rid of them because the bottle is 3/4 full and I spent money on it. That is just crazy though! Keeping them around to clutter up the bathroom isn’t doing any good. Get rid of that old make up too.

Not too bad, right? It shouldn’t take too long to tackle all the spaces on the list, and I bet you and your home will both feel a bit lighter when you are done. For our house, I’m especially excited about the items that feel like I’m getting a head start on the holidays, like the spices.

Fall bucket list ideas.

Every list is going to be different, but here are some ideas to add to your bucket list.

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Fall is my favorite season. Here in Wisconsin, the weather is perfect, the foliage is beautiful, and there are a ton of fall activities to do with the family. Our family is really big on doing activities together, but with so many ideas , its sometimes hard to keep them all straight, and make sure they all actually happen. Creating a fall bucket list has been the perfect solution to ensuring we intentionally plan out the fall season and maximize our time together as a family. Prior to creating out bucket list we would frequently say “one day we should do ___” but they never seem to happen. Either we forget about them, or simply run out of free time to schedule them. That’s why having a personalized fall bucket list is a must have.

Why do you need a fall bucket list?

  • Do you sit around wondering how you can fill your days?
  • Are your weekends filled with various birthday parties and get together’s, and you never have time to fit in your own family fun?
  • Do you look back on prior months and wish you did certain things that you never got a chance to do?
  • Do you always intend to catch up with certain friends (or schedule play dates) but never come around to doing it?
  • Do you have a list of books you want to read, movies you want to see, or concerts you want to attend?
  • Do you wonder what to do with the kids on a rainy day?
  • Do you look back on the fall and wonder where it went, but don’t have anything to show for it?
  • Do you want to maximize your fall and have the most fun ever?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you need a fall bucket list.

A fall bucket list is a simple resource that encourages you to brain storm all the fun activities that you want to plan. Having a fall bucket list encourages you to think about the life that you want to live and is the first step to putting it into action. By putting together a fall bucket list you are forced to think about all the things you want to do, people you want to see, places you want to go, and put them out into the universe to happen.

Putting together a family fall bucket list gives everyone in the family a chance to choose adventures and contribute to your family’s precious memories.

How do I put together a fall bucket list?

Typically, you put together a fall bucket list in the beginning of fall. But there isn’t any reason you can’t start mid fall! All you need is a paper and pen.

To start, brainstorming all of the fun activities and adventures you want to go on. I like to categorize my bucket lists into the following categories.

  • Outdoor
  • indoor
  • night time
  • places to go
  • play date’s to schedule
  • people to visit
  • things to make
  • things to learn
  • book/movies/concerts

I like to do this together as a family. That way everyone gets a say and can contribute to planning the fun.

Putting your fall bucket list into action.

Once you have your personalized fall bucket list, you have to put it into action. Writing it all down is a good first step, but planning it out is even better. Grab a calendar to start scheduling out when you want to do the various activities on your list.

I prefer to schedule out the big activities in advance but leave some room for spontaneity (you cant predict the weather, so it would be hard to schedule all the out door and indoor activities in advance with out knowing the weather.)

What to put on your family fall bucket list.

Every list is going to be different, but here are some ideas that we have on our bucket list.

Outdoor fall activities

  • Apple picking
  • bobbing for apples
  • decorate your porch
  • do a corn maze
  • farmers market
  • fishing
  • go to a foot ball game
  • grave yard tour
  • have a fall scavenger hunt
  • Halloween trick or treating
  • haunted house
  • hiking
  • jump in a corn pit
  • jump in leaves
  • mini golf
  • park/picnic at the park
  • play catch/foot ball
  • take a hay ride
  • take family pictures
  • visit a brewery/winery

Indoor fall activities

  • bake pumpkin pie/bread
  • bowling
  • bounce house
  • build a blanket fort
  • can your veggies and fruit from the summer
  • carve a pumpkin
  • cook a new recipe
  • create a care box for our troops
  • create a memory box or time capsule
  • eat/drink pumpkin spice everything
  • make an apple pie
  • make candy apples
  • make pumpkin seeds to eat.

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  • play board games
  • rock climbing
  • trampoline park
  • visit your local library
  • write a letter to a friend

Night time fall activities

  • campfire smores
  • drive in movie
  • game night
  • have a sleep over
  • make fondue
  • star gazing
  • make your own pizza

Things to make in the fall

  • build a scare crow
  • create a fall wreath
  • create a halloween costume
  • create a summer photo book
  • leaf painting
  • make a pumpkin volcano
  • make a thankful tree
  • make homemade ice cream
  • make a no sew blanket

Other ideas for your fall bucket list.

  • books to read
  • concerts you want to attend
  • movies you want to watch
  • people to visit
  • places to go
  • play dates to schedule
  • things you want to learn about.

Simple fall decor inspiration.

Fall decor doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or time comsuming.

Next to Christmas, fall is my favorite season to decorate for. I love the colors, and the coziness it brings. It just makes you want to snuggle up under a blanket and grab a warm drink.

Adding some fall decor to your home doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or time consuming. Today I am going to share some simple fall decor inspiration.

The Dollar Tree has everything you need! You can even order online. Use my link to save on shipping.

Any of these tips can be put into any space and can be done with in 10-15 minutes!

This site does contain affiliate links If you make a purchase after clicking on any of my links I may make money from them.

–So lets get started!–

Use natural elements

Since fall is the season of harvest. Its the perfect time to gather up pumpkins, apples, gourds, or other seasonal crops to display in your home. Or take a walk outside and gather some fall leaves, pine cones, or acorns. We happen to have an apple orchard close by, so when buying goodies, we get a few extra for decor!


Pumpkins are also personal favorites of mine. And its so fun to use some of the different varieties. I usually pick a few up each time I shop until I have a nice selection. Place them in bowels or baskets, or add them to a hutch or mantel. Add a few berry sprigs of fresh leaves and you’ll have a beautiful display.

Use fall printables or other artwork.

If you use a print in a frame, keep it in the frame for storage in the off season and just rotate your prints around as the seasons change. You’ll only need a minute to switch things up each holiday. You can find printables in many places, I like to use google.

Add chalk boards

Chalk boards are a lot of fun to work with, and you can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like with your designs. You also dont need to worry about storing them in the off seasons, just keep them up around year around and change up your art work.

Put together a fall beverage station.

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know i love to make up a beverage bar for each season. Fall is about apple cider for me. But you could also do hot chocolate , coffee with some seasonal flavors like cinnamon or pumpkin spice. Top it off with some fall themed mugs.

Add some color to tie the space together

While I’m usually drawn to more neutral colors, its hard to stay away from those beautiful fall colors. It doesn’t take much to really make an impact. Layer them through out the room. In a center piece it creates the look of all the pops of color.

Light it up

Who says lights have to be just for Christmas? Add some battery powered lights to fill your fall displays for added warmth and coziness. I like to get the ones with timers, so you can set it and forget it.

Simmering fall potpourri

So I just love all the smells of fall. And I think its super fun to not always have to use a candle, or some kind of air freshener to get that smell. Simmering pots are a great way to do that. AND its a healthier way as well. I am giving you a couple of my favorite recipes.

pumpkin spice

  • 2 cups apple cider or juice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp clove
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 apple or dried apple slices.

Apple pie

  • 1 small thinly sliced apple
  • 2 cups liquid (juice or water)
  • 1 tbsp cloves (whole)
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg

You don’t really have to be too concerned about the measurement.

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11 Back to school parent tips

Where did the summer go? Fall is just around the corner and “back to school” is on many parents minds. The challenge is getting school back on the mind of your “live in” student. If you want your child to hit the ground running academically this school year. Then its time to retrain their brain.

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Its time to retrain your child’s brain

Schools around the globe provide a system of routines for maximizing learning that is specific to each students age and ability. Unfortunately these routines have been breached with approximately 90 days of vacation and they need to be re-established prior to the first day of school. Here are 11 tips to help your student establish routines for a successful year.

1 Re-set sleep patterns-

7 to 10 days prior to the first day of school start the process of regular sleep. Wean the student off of going to bed late and sleeping late. Yes, you’ll probably cave to the “mom its my last weekend before school, why cant I stay up late?” However, sleep patterns are crucial for reaching peak performance during the first class period and maintaining it until the bell rings to go home. Start this process sooner then later and help maintain it all year. Good luck on this one. Be bold, be consistent.

2 Re-set eating habits

Once school begins the eating patterns of the student need to be set so they can maintain a high level of energy throughout the day. The routines of breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and after school snack prior to homework need to be implemented.. In fact, the entire nutrition of the students needs to be well through out 7 – 10 days before school begins. Some one other then the student needs to be the chief family nutritionist!

3 Exercise the brain

Just like the NFL, conditioning and exhibition games that prepare each football player for the upcoming season, your student needs to warm up and begin to hone the basics of math, reading and writing, prior to the school year. To allow your brain to stagnate for 3 months with out reading is a travesty for super learning, and learning itself. Is it too late? It is what it is. But begin now to encourage reading and writing at least 7 – 10 days prior to the first day. In addition, math skills can erode over the summer. Have your student review the previous years math basics before they go to the next level.

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4 Set academic goals

Establish well- defined goals is one of the hallmarks of a champion. Each student needs this. Goals with corresponding strategies and tactics for reaching them. Set goals for each class and hold your student accountable.

5 Identify priorities.

Football games, dances, playing video games, watching television, social media, homework, sports, extra curricular participation and friends are all part of each school year. Does academics top the list of priorities? When is homework to be accomplished? Before or after dinner? After school? The homework routine needs to be placed in your students schedule before the school year. Sunday night is a great night to prepare for the upcoming week. This is a routine they can take into adult life.

6 Social media

This activity gets its own mention. I believe smart phones aren’t always smart. This device is your students pipeline to the rest of the world with emphasis on their peer group. Self-discipline and concentration don’t always mesh with the cell phone. No cell phone usage during home work PERIOD. No cell phone usage after certain hours. (you decide the nightly cell phone curfew) as a student, you need to know three things about social media. What is my responsibility? What is my authority? And lastly, what will I be held accountable? Monitor this activity. You don’t need surprises. Keep in mind where and when your students goes on the web and with whom they communicate.

7 Risk and reward

This subject needs to be addressed frequently with your student. Everything they do, or don’t do has a positive, or negative consequence. What is the risk of doing this activity? What is the reward? This talk needs to be given and repeated often.

8 Ask questions

Tell and yell does NOT work as a form of communication. Many of us have been raised with this form of information delivery. In order to turn your student into a viable and responsible decision maker, then great questions will eventually produce great answers and ultimately great actions. Questions that can be answered with a mumbled yes or now are NOT great questions.

9 The peer group

Birds of a feather stick together. Interview research and keep tabs on ALL your students friends during the school year. This definitely includes monitoring ALL social media. If your paying the phone bill, then the phone is yours, not theirs. Your students circle of friends is the main influencer of how they approach homework, speech, dress, music, and any other behavior. Police the peer group. Also meet all the parents of your childs friends. This will tell you alot.

10 Get ready mom and dad.

Yes, as parents we need to prepare to assist our live in students in setting, organizing and managing the best routines for maximum learning. This also pertains to family activities such as dinner, chores, family outings, sibbling behavior, and community service. Of course, your students priorities is preparing for the academic year and maintaining good grades. But do not forget family. Keep them in the loop of all up coming activities.

11 Allow for freedom of choice.

All students need some time to blow off steam. And just hang out with friends. Allow your student time in their busy schedule to do this!

13 ways to organize and get rid of paper clutter for ever!

Do you have random piles of paper covering your work area? Doesn’t it seem like papers always find a way into your home creating clutter?

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Do you have random piles of paper covering your work area, dining table, and kitchen counter? Doesn’t it seem like papers always find a way into your home creating clutter?

If it takes you forever to find important papers because you have no clue where you put them. Its time to get organized.

Keeping important papers organized also requires you to get rid of any paper clutter that is NOT important. This way you know everything you keep is important and not useless.

1 Create an inbox.

Leave a box or tray on your desk or entry way table and label it as inbox. This will be where all your papers go. It doesn’t matter what kind of papers they are, in the box they go.

Have a designated area where all papers go as soon as they come into the house. This will help you keep all the paper together until you are ready to go thru them.

2 Create multiple boxes

Ok, maybe one inbox is not enough. You can always have more.

Having more than one inbox means you can sort papers right away the moment you get them. Label the “read: “sort” and “file” Or anything you want.

3 Make your own personalized mail organizer.

You can refer back to one of my previous posts for this. How to create a family command center that really works.

Take it to the next level by reading. It will keep you organized AND look nice in your entry way.

4 Go paperless with statements and bills.

One way to reduce paper clutter in your home is to get ride of as much as possible.

Make sure you sign up for paperless statements with your banks and service provider that send your paper statements. All your bills and records should be available online to view, and sometimes you might even get a discount for paperless statements.

5 Keeping a receipts jar.

If your keeping receipts, keep them in a jar near the entrance of your home. Make it a habit to empty your pockets and wallet as you come in the door and keep the receipts in the jar.

This will eliminate receipts for in random spots in your home.

6 Displaying children’s art work

You want to proudly display your children’s art work, but your running out of space on the wall and fridge?

You should scan or photograph the art works and make a collage out of the pictures. This will save you so much space on that wall!

For more Ideas on this refer back to another of my previous posts, How to save kids art work.

7 You can also make kids artwork into a photo book

This is a great sight to find all your photo needs!

Or you can make your kids artwork into a photo book! This helps to keep all their art pieces together in one book and also reduces paper clutter. It makes it easy to flip thru the pages and everything stays nice and neat.

8 Designate a space for all paper clutter

Organize your office space so you have a designated area for everything including papers. This is where you can place your inbox so all incoming papers have a place to sit before you sort thru them.

You should have a section for papers that need actions and another section for filing. Make sure you have an empty box or trash bin to collect paper to recycle.

9 mobile command center

If you don’t have a room or an office, try creating a mobile command center. This shows you don’t need the perfect dream office and desk to keep everything organized.

All you need is a cheap file box and some dividers.

10 How long to keep papers

One month

  • receipts – non deductable items
  • deposit/atm slips
  • reconciled bank statements

1-3 years

  • check book ledgers
  • paycheck stubs
  • mortgage statements
  • insurance records
  • all business and income relate documents
  • proof of deductable purchases

At least 7 years

  • State and Federal income tax returns
  • w2 and 1099
  • medical bills and statements
  • contracts
  • any receipts that were used for tax deductions
  • cancelled checks
  • millage records
  • real estate tax forms and records

Forever

  • Birth certificates
  • marriage/divorce papers
  • auto titles
  • mortgages
  • investment statements
  • passports
  • home improvement receipts
  • receipts for major purchases
  • medical records
  • education records
  • pension/retirement plans
  • property agreements.

11 recipes from magazines

If you save magazine recipe cut outs, you probably know how important it is to keep them organized.

You can keep them in folders by catagories. Such as breakfast, lunch, and supper. This makes it so much easier to look for a recipe you want. Make sure to label the tabs and you can keep all the folders in a file box.

12 School paper storage.

Keep your kids school papers in a paper organizer. You can divide the papers by grade levels.

13 color code important papers.

Keep important papers in color coded folders. This will make it so much easier to find something you need.

A quick guide to knowing when to put out your fall decor.

Your probably wondering how early is too early for fall decorations. When it comes to trading in summer decor for fall foliage, there is no hard rule.

By: Debbie Pfluger

Your probably wondering how early is too early for fall decorations? When it comes to trading in your summer decor for fall foliage, there’s no hard rule. How ever, you can follow seasonal cues to make sure you’r not too early or too late. I’ve provided a bit of a guidance below on when to put out fall decor.

WHEN TO PUT UP FALL DECOR

Whether your changing your interior or exterior, you can hang fall decor as early as late August and through out the holiday season. The best option is to put up fall decor in September or October but late August is appropriate if you want a head start. Avoid hanging any decor before that so your decorations can be in sync with the season.

You’ll also want to avoid confusing holiday decor for fall decor. If your going to decorate your space before the first major fall holiday- Halloween, choose fall appropriate decor and add the holiday elements latter on as different holidays approach.

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas right around the corner, you can choose fall decorations that last for a few months. From fall inspired wreaths to pumpkins and rustic foliage, you can create a cozy themed atmosphere that serves as the foundation for each holiday.

Signs that Autumn is near.

There is also a few signs you can pay attention to before switching out your fall decor. Let nature be your biggest cue when it comes to finding the right time to put up your decorations.

  • Cold weather- When the weather starts to get colder, you can begin changing out your summer decor to fall decor. Once the weather appears to be colder on average daily, you can swap out bright colors in your home to warm fall friendly colors.
  • When the leaves start changing color. The easiest sign that autumn is approaching is right outside your door step. Once the leaves begin to fall and are changing colors, this is a sign that fall decor is appropriate.

Practical tips for getting your mama body to the pool!

Its worth it! Totally worth it! The hassle, discomfort, the stuffing of this mom body into a spandex suit over and over again!

I just read a post from creativemom.com and loved it! So much, that it inspired me to write this post. The author encourages moms to stop worrying about their body image, and get in the water with their kids.

It was a total inspiration for me. I struggle so much with my appearance. Especially after being diagnosed with thyroid disease. Which has caused me to gain weight.

I was so inspired, that I want to share with you what I learned.

Look the part

So from the fashion part of me. Nothing irritates me more than someone wearing a 1940s costume with a 2014 hairstyle.

Huh??

What I mean is, be will to play your role, all the way. Step into your character as a mom with kids.

Sure its awesome if your a fit mom or a slim mom, but not everyone gets to be cast as that character. Every play needs a frazzled mom, and an overweight mom, and a mom who doesn’t have the time or money to keep her hair from frizzing. Its these characters who make the play interesting.

So this is my take on the play itself. I’m a mom. I’m working on getting fit, but, in the mean time I’m embracing my role!

Get swim wear your comfortable wearing.

OK, so the first part is more of a pep talk, but now I’m getting specific. There are some sorts of modest, comfortable bathing suits out there. Unfortunately most are crazy expensive. Like $80-100. For a cheapskate like me, if I wasn’t fully convinced I would wear it more than twice in the summer, that price tag would make me decide I just couldn’t do it.

And that would be my final excuse for not heading to the pool.

So, here’s what I do. I buy board shorts. I’ve done the swim skirts before. But don’t like how they float up in the water.

I’m sure you can find these at amazon, or other places. But I get mine at Kohls. (Because I work there) For around $10 – $15. You can wear a one-piece with the shorts. But that makes bathroom trips quite difficult. (especially if you have kids small enough that they have to come with)

I grab a bikini bottom, usually off of the clearance rack. I don’t care what it looks like, since it wont be seen. It’s like swim undies.

Then I’ll spend a little more for a tankini top. I’ve seen then just about everywhere that sells clothing, starting at around $15.00.

The total cost was around $40.00 but I’ve worn the same shorts for about 3 years now. But some items were out faster with intense use.

Oh, and one more hint, thats really just a person opinion, Halter tankinis make you look awesome. Seriously! They lift things that need to be lifted. But… if the things you need lifted are heavy, it will eventually kill your neck. I’m all about being comfortable, so DON’T do halters.

Prepare realistically

If you read and relate to this blog, theres a chance you’re the mom who loves to think of everything possible you would need to make a trip to the pool perfect. You might even make a list. (Yes, that s me by the way) And the first time you would rock it.

But then life happens. So here are a few tips I’ve learned from experience.

  • Drip drying works. Who needs towels!
  • A bag of unmeltable, special snacks marked pool only is a good alternative to making snack choices on a daily basis,
  • Small slushies are cheap if you forget the special snacks.

Honestly, the only thing I never forget (because we keep it in the truck) is the sunscreen. FYI Banana boat is great – but if your into the chemical free type as am I head over to Grove Collaborative!https://www.grove.co/referrer/3825420/ Use this link to get an awesome deal on your first order!

And if your like me – and you dont like to spread goop on your face, get a hat

Just go!

I had to get a cover up and bring a friend to talk to are other things to include. But I’m going to skip that. Just go! If you avoided going with your kids, the first time will be uncomfortable and awkward but thats ok. My main motivation for being purposeful about going all the time is that there’s nothing more fun to stay active in Wisconsin summers. My kids are in awesome shape every summer.

My second motivation is the joy I get from watching my kids experience childhood.

I do get in the water. I do play with them some. But its also ok for me to yak with my mama friends while we tread water or just stand in the shallows, while the kids make their own fun.

With out any direction from me, they spend summers learning to dive by practicing. They organize relay races. They use splash balls and pool noodles to play base ball with kids they wouldn’t recognize at school when everyones wearing clothes. They have jumping contests and make funny hair styles by flipping their hair up in the water.

Its’s worth it! Totally worth the hassle of discomfort of stuffing this mom body into a spandex suit over and over again!

What to do with your teens this summer!

Kids can fall behind if they slack off in the summer. You can promote learning with these ideas.

If you start the season with good intentions, (chores! Books! Fresh air!) only to find kids camped out in front of you tube, read this wise advise.

Every June I have the best intentions: I’m going to keep kids on a schedule. They are going to do more chores, and read more books. We are going to take a family bike ride or walk. We’ll be closer then ever.

And… By the time the 4th of July rolls around, things have usually slid out of control. The are sleeping in way past breakfast, lounging in front of the TV and texting the day away. It usually starts with a soft hearted moment on my part. – (they need a break – after the busy school year – I’ll let them sleep in today) But it quickly turns into a pattern. And since I’m still busy – work – laundry – etc.- I side step my guilt and let them veg.

It’s a common problem. By the middle school years, kids are too old to play board games, or go to summer school all day, but not old enough to drive or have a real summer job. Though children may beg for “free time” Its not in the best interest to let them achieve total “slackerdom” Tweens and teens often believe they’d just love to have weeks of “doing nothing” says Annie Fox, M ED, author of the Middle School Confidential series. But the reality rarely matches the day dream. Kids get bored and, like puppies, bored kids often get into stuff they shouldn’t! They also fall behind academically (more on the latter) And to be honest, we parents often have unrealistic “Norman Rockwell” – like notions about bonding with our children: we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves and out kids to get closer then we were during the school year. Michale J Bradly, ED D says “parents who approach summer with too many plans for bonding usually wind up feeling like they’re in a Chevy Chase movie, where everything goes wrong. But there are realistic ways to sneak some structure, learning, and yes – family time into the summer with out feeling like a drill sergeant. Hear are the smart strategies.

Get on the same page:

Good intentions often fizzle out because kids have one set of summer goals, (making it to the next level of a video game) and parents have another goal for them (tackling a summer reading list) Many struggles can be avoided if parents and kids sit down before school get s out to discuss or brain storm acceptable ideas. Ask questions like what was the best day/week from ast summer, and the worst.

STEP UP THE CHORES

Having jobs around the house sets expectations and gives a sense of accomplishment. “Summer is ideal for learning responsibility”, because tweens and teens simply have more time. Of course not many kids volunteer to do chores, and sometimes we parents fall into the “it’s easier if I do it myself” trap.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, give kids a choice so they can feel a sense of ownership. Also give kids a choice about when they accomplish the chore. Imagine if someone told you to “take out the trash! NOW!” You may need to give a time frame though.

TIP Avoid chain gang chores – like moving a rock pile from one place to another – they never feel done. Anything that can be finished in an hour is perfect.

LAYER IN SOME LEARNING

Kids can fall behind if they slack in the summer. You don’t have to hire a tutor, but you can promote learning with these ideas.

  • Let kids pick their own books
  • Create a summer book club.
  • Use technology to your advantage.

ALSO, CONSIDER THESE IDEAS FOR TOGETHER TIME.

  • Take it outside – games, picnics, walks, ect.
  • Force the issue, because teens will resisit.
  • Go sight seeing.

LET BED TIME SLIDE A LITTLE

During the summer consider a slightly latter bed time. Just as long as they are awake before 9:30am. Or you will throw of their natural body clock.

And lastly…

MAKE PEACE WITH ELECTRONICS

Set screen time limits. Break up the day so its impossible to be glued to the TV or phones all day. And to help with that, her is a list of 10 things you can do.

10 things to do with your teen outside

  • get active. Teens tend to have alot of energy to get out, so out there and get active with them!
  • Movie marathon
  • hike, camp, and/or rock climb
  • go to an amusement park
  • community service
  • take a road trip
  • photo hunts
  • play games
  • bowling
  • let them decide

Now you know all the ins and outs of having a great summer with your teens and tweens. Best of luck to you all!

The ultimate guide to packing for a 5 day road trip.

Packing for a week long? Whether you are headed out on a road trip or on a plane, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed efficiently and haven’t forgot anything important. This checklist of thing to bring with will help you make sure you don;t leave anything behind.

Clothes

For clothes, I’m a huge for having a capsule ward rope. By that I mean that you want things that are in the same color family or pair well together that have the ability to be layered and mixed and matched, or can be versatile for all different activities you might be a part of while on vacation. Think through your trip and activities you have planned. Do you need to dress up? Go hiking? Do you plan to get in work outs?

Then check the weather. Will it snow? Rain? Be sunny? You can check the weather about 10 days out, but you’ll want to check it again a few days before you go. So you can have a better idea of what it will be like.

  • 2 tank tops (optional)
  • 3-4 tops
  • 1 dress
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 1 light jacket
  • 2 bras
  • 7 pairs of underware
  • 7 pairs of socks

SHOES

Again this depends on what your activities are. If your hiking then pack a pair of hiking boots. If its wintery, pack some fleece lined boots.

  • 1 pair of sneakers or hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of flats
  • 1 dress shoe

TOILETRIES

I know this can be the most controversial of the “what to pack” bunch. I know lots of people prefer to depend on what ever the hotels will provide them, others prefer their own. So really, this depends on your own personal preferance. And (surprise) what you will be doing. It’s a place where you can save weight and space in your begs though.

Just remember, if you are flying you need to make sure your carry on fits the 3-1-1 rule.

  • shampoo/conditioner
  • soap
  • lotion
  • sunscreen
  • deodorant
  • razor
  • tooth paste/tooth brush
  • floss
  • tampons/pads

This is another one that gets controversial. Some travel experts will say to skip the make up and let your hair go natural. To lighten up the load a bit. And that’s ok. Depending on what your plans are. Like if your going to spending most of your time hiking. How ever, you may be dressing up for the night or sprucing up for some pictures. So here is a basic set of items to include. REMINDER- liquids need to go in plastic bags if you are flying.

MAKE UP

  • chapstick
  • foundation
  • powder
  • blush
  • eye shadow
  • eye liner
  • brow product
  • mascara
  • make up brush
  • make up wipes

HAIR

  • brush/comb
  • hair dryer
  • curler
  • straightener
  • styling products
  • hair spray

MEDICINE AND FIRST AID

This is an important one. If you take prescription medication, you need to take actual bottles. I will bring my weekly pill box to remind me of what I need to take. Especially if your in another time zone, you don’t want to be fumbling around trying to remember if you’ve taken your pills or not.

I’d also recommend a small supply of tums and imodium just in case. I found it helpful to have some band aids, tweezers and neosporin for small bits, burns, or cuts. Also, benadryl , tylenol and wipes come in handy. You want to keep just enough with you to get through until you can find a pharmacy.

  • prescriptions
  • vitamins
  • weekly pill box
  • tums
  • tweezers
  • band aids
  • cold medicine
  • contact solution
  • kleenex

ELECTRONICS

How connected do you want to be?

That’s the first thing you’ll want to consider before you thing about what to bring. If you don’t plan to work on the road, then you probably do not need to bring your lap top. Usually you can get by with bring a tablet device. Its enough to check emails, read books, or play a few games. You can also use it to check any guild information you might need.

For photography, I have a good camera, but I don’t carry it everywhere I go. In most cases a phone will work just as well.

  • kindle/ipad
  • chargers
  • battery back up
  • pocket chargers
  • camera lenses
  • SD cards
  • tri pod
  • phone
  • ear buds-head phones

DOCUMENTS

  • (road trip) Copy of your vehicle insurance.
  • health insurance
  • reservations
  • (air) passports
  • visa
  • plane tickets

WALLET

  • cash
  • credit cards
  • ID

EXTRAS

  • travel towel
  • neck pillows
  • travel journal
  • pen
  • water bottle
  • deck of cards

LUGGAGE AND PACKING

Last but not least, your going to need to be able to pack everything up. For a long trip you should be able to get it all in a large carry on bag. Just remember weight limits when your flying, and the amount of available space when packing your trunk for a road trip.

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